A strange silence from the Tuqiri camp
The Sunday Telegraph ran a self-serving editorial lambasting the ARU for not revealing the details of Lote Tuqiri’s sacking and which concluded, rather unconvincingly, that this perceived lack of transparency would result in rugby union becoming a diminished code in Australia.
The point of the editorial, a criticism of the ARU’s silence on the sacking, was a major issue in most of the other media commentary on the sacking up to Sunday.
The CEO of the ARU, John O’Neill, a lawyer, tried to deflect this criticism by suggesting that he went into the sacking with his “eyes wide open”, that as Tuqiri has threatened legal action against the ARU, it is unable to disclose its reasons for the sacking, and that there is nothing to stop Tuqiri’s camp from providing the media with the relevant details of the matter.
On Monday, the commentary shifted from finding fault with O’Neill to now criticising Tuqiri’s camp for its silence on the matter.
We had a column by Greg Growden in the SMH that summed up this shift with its headline: Lote’s Silence Has Rumour Mill Roaring.
The Daily Telegraph’s on-line edition published an article by Jim Ticker (surely Jim Tucker) with a publication time of 12am on Sunday which pointed out two of the Wallabies’ private team rules under Robbie Deans: “the alcohol breath-testing of randomly selected players the morning after Test matches and a tight code on just who is allowed to enter the hotel rooms of players in Test week.”
The article went on to suggest that the Tuqiri incident happened before the first Test against Italy at Canberra.
Growden’s article in the SMH suggests that what happened in Tuqiri’s hotel room is the key to the dispute: “Monday Maul understands there was a recent breach of player protocol following an incident at the team hotel. We understand it is not a trivial matter and certainly more serious than a food fight in Canberra that recently resulted in three other Wallabies – James O’Connor, Quade Cooper and Josh Valentine – being fined.”
According to Growden ‘the real Tuqiri story’ is known to only a small group of people: “Even senior Wallabies players and several members of the team management are unaware of the full details.”
On the next page of the SMH, Growden has another story titled: Right Decision – Deans backs ARU move to dump Tuqiri.
The story quotes Deans as saying that he was consulted throughout the process and that “I completely support the ARU’s decesion … I am unable to discuss Lote’s actual termination but I have been concerned about how some have seized on this issue and may have attempted to use this to their advantage.”
Who can these ‘some’ be?
Growden has also revealed that Tuqiri was told of his sacking after an hour-long meeting with O’Neill on Monday. The sacking/termination of the contract was announced on Wednesday.
This time gap is interesting.
As Growden points out, the rumour mills have been roaring in the absence of either of the parties providing the media and supporters with relevant details.
For what it is worth, one of the rumours is that O’Neill offered the ARU’s silence to Tuqiri, which was initially accepted, and honoured. Then, later, Tuqiri told the media that he had hired some legal guns and was going to fight the legality of the sacking.
Again, for what it is worth, like Growden, I have heard of an allegation which is not trivial and certainly serious enough, if true, to warrant Tuqiri’s contract being ripped up.
It’s time that the air is cleared on this matter.
The best way for this to be done is for the strange silence from the Lote Tuqiri camp to be lifted.
Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.
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