The Wallabies are adamant there will be no repeat of the infamous ‘Dublin Six’ debacle, with lock Kane Douglas describing it as a line-in-the-sand moment for Australian rugby.
In 2013, six Wallabies were suspended for one match – and a further nine, including Douglas and current tour members Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps and Scott Fardy, were given either verbal or written warnings – following a late-night drinking session in Dublin.
And Douglas – who went home early enough that night so as to avoid a suspension but not a written warning – said it was an important moment in shaping the current culture within the Wallabies.
And with an unbeaten Spring Tour record after three games, and Ireland and England standing in the way of a first grand slam of wins since 1984, the Wallabies say they won’t be tempted by Dublin’s nightspots this week.
“I was out that night. I suppose things had to change within the Wallabies culture and I think we’ve become more professional since then and (going out for drinks is) probably not even going to happen,” said Douglas.
The late-night drinking prompted an angry rebuke from then coach Ewen McKenzie, but the Wallabies went on to win their final two matches of the tour.
A furious McKenzie said at the time he wasn’t “running social tours of Europe”.
Similarly, last week, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika warned his players of the temptations of Paris – a city he admires greatly, but where he is acutely aware of the pitfalls of becoming a tourist and forgetting the task at hand.
“We haven’t got any rules with Cheik – we’re all adults, but I don’t think something like that would happen again anyway,” added Douglas, now a 29-Test veteran who has matured into a leader among the Wallabies.
“It’s been good from the leadership group. I feel like I’m getting pretty old now anyway.
“I’m 27, I’ve got a wife and kids and everyone just wants to be in the right position come Saturday that we can play our best footy.
“I think the Wallaby culture and a heap of the boys have grown a lot since then.”
Judging by vice-captain Michael Hooper’s steely gaze when quizzed on the topic, the team leaders intend to ensure everyone falls in line in both Dublin this week and in London, where the Wallabies will face England the following weekend in their final match of the tour.
“I don’t think it’s something that comes into our minds,” said Hooper, who was not among those sanctioned three years ago and started in all five Tests on that tour.
“There’s obviously memories of (the 2013 controversy) but that’s all well behind us now and it’s about looking forward.”