An independent Code of Conduct Tribunal has tonight found Qantas Wallaby Kurtley Beale guilty of a serious violation of the ARU Code of Conduct, and handed down a $45,000 fine, for sending an offensive photograph to an ARU employee.
The charge related to an image Beale admitted to sending on 9 June 2014.
The Tribunal also found evidence did not establish that a second more offensive text and photograph had been sent by Beale.
The Tribunal, Chaired by His Honour Judge Mark L Williams SC, found while a serious violation had occurred, mitigating factors were taken into account to determine an appropriate sanction.
These include Beale’s contrition; the unpleasant consequences the matter had created for the ARU employee and Beale; and the fact that Beale had already effectively been suspended from recent matches.
The independent Tribunal included representatives nominated by the Rugby Union Players’ Association (sports administrator John Boultbee) and the Australian Rugby Union (Barrister Dominic Villa).
ARU CEO Bill Pulver said the ARU would accept the Tribunal’s findings and sanction.
“This was a serious allegation and like any business, when we received that complaint we were compelled to investigate it and give Kurtley Beale an opportunity to present his case in relation to the matter in an independent forum,” Mr Pulver said.
“We pride ourselves on living the values of Rugby – passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork. Everyone involved in Rugby is aware of our expectations regarding the values on and off the field, particularly our players.
“We have obligations to our fans and the broader community and we are committed to ensuring any behaviour that has the potential to breach our Code of Conduct or values is investigated and taken seriously.
“This was deemed a serious violation by the Tribunal and as such, we intend to donate the $45,000 collected through this fine to a suitable organisation that promotes the empowerment of women.
“Negotiations regarding Kurtley’s contract beyond this year have been on hold in recent weeks. As a result of the independent Tribunal’s decision, we will re-open those contract discussions.”
“It was a positive outcome that the Tribunal found that the more offensive text and photograph had not been sent by Kurtley,” said Rugby Union Players’ Association CEO Greg Harris.
“We are pleased that Kurtley having shown remorse and incurred the penalty will now be in a position to continue his Rugby career.”
Following the Tribunal’s decision, Beale apologised for breaching the Code of Conduct.
“I am satisfied with tonight’s outcome. There was conjecture about my contract being terminated, however the Tribunal agreed that on the basis of the evidence that a fine was appropriate,” Mr Beale said.
“I’m relieved there is no termination and no suspension and I can now continue playing Rugby.
“I’m also happy the evidence presented to the Tribunal did not establish that I sent the second text and photograph. This is why I fought so hard to prove my innocence regarding that text.”
“I’d like to apologise to Di Patston and the broader community for my behaviour, particularly to Rugby fans.
“I have had a fair hearing tonight and will work to re-gain the respect of my team mates, fans and the general Australian community.
“I am extremely proud to represent my country, and I will work hard to ensure my behaviour reflects the honour and privilege of playing for Australia at all times, on and off the field.”
The decision means Kurtley Beale will be eligible for selection for the Qantas Wallabies, effective immediately.