THE BIG PICTURE: Astley Cup rugby league brawl could haunt the CRL

HINDSIGHT is a wonderful thing.

You look back at things you’ve done and think about how you could have done them differently, and how those changed actions may have delivered different results.

I wonder how the Country Rugby League will look back at their handling of the Astley Cup rugby league brawl between Orange High and Dubbo Senior College.

The fight which played out more than two weeks ago was disgusting and sadly overshadowed what should have been a great celebration for Orange High.

Rather than being proactive and informing the public of the steps they were taking to deal with the problem, and to show this sort of behaviour would not be tolerated, the CRL seemingly shut up shop.

It was by chance a colleague found out the judiciary had been held on Monday.

That’s when we started making phone calls. We called on Monday after the judiciary. We called twice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

At no point did we plan to name the individuals and we made this clear to the CRL representatives.

All we asked for was what the charges were and the corresponding punishments handed out. We never asked for names.

This was a chance for the CRL to show this appalling behaviour has serious consequences, no matter what age you are.

Instead the CRL sent out a statement late Thursday, 72 hours after the judiciary had been completed, saying six players had been suspended and no further comment or details would be released.

This lack of information and transparency has meant the issue has dragged out. It could have been done early this week and, instead, here we are on Saturday still talking about it.

Here is what I believe the CRL should have done as soon as they became involved in the matter:

As soon as they knew of the fight, the CRL needed to have a statement out saying it condemned the actions of the players involved, and the incident would be investigated.

After they had finished their investigation they needed to make public how many players would be facing the judiciary and when it would be on.

When the judiciary had been held, they needed to release a statement saying it had been completed and the results would be released as soon as the players were notified.

Once those players knew what their punishments were, the CRL should have sent out a statement explaining what the charges were and their corresponding suspensions. No one needed to be named.

These suspended players shouldn’t be babied. If they think they’re tough for throwing punches, there’s no need to be soft in the way their punishments are handed out.


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