x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Australia Rugby Union hits six players with match-bans for drinking

Adam Ashley Cooper, Nick Cummins, Tatafu Plota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Liam Gill will miss Saturday's match with Scotland while Paddy Ryan will be removed from a November 30 tilt against Wales, Australia coach Ewen McKenzie announced on Monday.

Ewen McKenzie and Australia Rugby Union banned six players for one match on Monday and sanctioned another nine for inappropriate drinking. Ian Walton / Getty Images
Ewen McKenzie and Australia Rugby Union banned six players for one match on Monday and sanctioned another nine for inappropriate drinking. Ian Walton / Getty Images

Australia have suspended six players for one match and sanctioned another nine for “breaches of internal team protocols” following a drinking session in the days leading up to Saturday’s test against Ireland, the team said.

“Everyone in our squad is required to comply with and adhere to high standards of ethical conduct both on and off the field,” coach Ewen McKenzie said in a Wallabies statement on Monday.

“Those standards were compromised in the lead-up to Saturday’s victory over Ireland with a group of players making the decision to stay out late and consume inappropriate levels of alcohol during the early hours of Wednesday morning.”

Wingers Adam Ashley Cooper and Nick Cummins, front-rowers Tatafu Polota-Nau and Benn Robinson, and backrower Liam Gill have been stood down for Saturday’s test with Scotland at Murrayfield.

Front-rower Paddy Ryan has also been given a one-game ban, but will serve his suspension in the Wallabies’ final tour match, against Wales in Cardiff on Nov. 30, because international regulations state all squads must contain at least four props. Australia have only five in their touring party of 32.

McKenzie gave written disciplinary warnings to Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Saia Fainga’a, Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps, while Scott Fardy, Mike Harris, Ben McCalman and Nic White received verbal warnings.

“Let’s be clear - these are internal sanctions and aren’t a result of any complaints or reports of inappropriate or sinister behaviour while our players were out,” said McKenzie, whose team beat Ireland 32-15. “Instead, we have chosen to address an issue that has come up internally and we are now being up-front about it.

“We’ve done this because we need to continually reinforce the need for our players to make smart decisions to benefit the team.

“The worst thing you could do for the Wallabies in the long-term is do nothing, because that would mean we would be ignoring poor culture and a significant performance issue.

“We will always take action in relation to examples of poor culture when it’s warranted - doing nothing to address poor behaviour will never be an option. We’ve taken on the challenge of re-defining our team culture.”

In September James O’Connor was dropped from the Australia squad after he was thrown out of Perth airport after an alcohol-related row with staff while Kurtley Beale spent time in rehab earlier in the year following a drinking suspension from his club.

McKenzie, who succeeded Robbie Deans as Wallabies coach in July, said he would not use the absent players as an excuse for a poor performance against Scotland.

“For us, this is a great opportunity to circle the wagons and re-calibrate our behaviours to get back on track off the field,” he said.