Rebels backs Beale, Vuna sent home after fight
STATHI PAXINOS AND GEORGINA ROBINSON
Melbourne Rebels players Kurtley Beale and Cooper Vuna have been sent back to Australia from the team's South African tour after being involved in a late-night fight.
The pair have been suspended from playing until the club and the ARU - both players are contracted Wallaby players - have decided the penalty they will face. They were expected to return to Melbourne as soon as possible with the club reportedly booking the pair on separate flights.
Rebels coach Damien Hill, who already had his hands full attempting to rebuild his team after the shattering 64-7 loss to the Sharks, said the players had shamed the club.
''The club will no longer tolerate this type of behaviour and I am embarrassed for everyone associated with building this club,'' said Hill in a statement.
Rebels chief executive Steve Boland said the punishments were still being determined.
''Let me be crystal clear there can be no excuses for the disrespect shown to the Melbourne Rebels rugby club by these players,'' said Boland. ''The expectation of the club and our supporters is that the management and players in South Africa focus immediately on their task of making amends for the poor on-field performance in Durban.''
Reports suggested the incident started as the team bus returned to the team hotel in Umhlanga from a nightspot in Durban.
News Ltd websites said an argument developed between Beale and captain Gareth Delve after Delve ordered Beale to put his shirt back on before the bus reached the hotel. Beale was reportedly verbally abusive towards Delve before Vuna intervened and was allegedly punched by Beale.
In a series of posts on Twitter in the early hours of Sunday morning, which were later deleted, Vuna said he was ''punched'' by a teammate, later naming him as Beale.
''I need to leave right now, this ain't for me! I tried to help someone but got punched, so instead of putting him in hospital, il [sic] leave!'' Vuna tweeted at 1.27am Durban time. It was deleted but re-published on fan site Green And Gold Rugby.
When a Twitter user, named @heart_Madrid, asked Vuna if his alleged assailant ''was drunk'', the Rebels back replied: ''Hmmmmm his name is @kurtley_beale bloody grub!''
The Rebels had earlier been humiliated 64-7 by the Sharks on Saturday night. Beale did not play as he was nursing a fracture in a hand.
Beale is already facing assault allegations arising from an incident at a Brisbane night spot last year, in which he was alleged to have hit a bouncer.
The case was sent to mediation late last month, with the first session to take place on April 17.
The ARU postponed a disciplinary process concerning Beale until the police matter was resolved, meaning he was available for Super Rugby games, Tests and the Wallabies spring tour of Europe.
Two weeks ago another Wallaby, Digby Ioane of the Queensland Reds, was allegedly involved in an incident at a Melbourne hotel.
Ioane was stood down for one macth by the Reds, which proved a costly omission with Queensland losing to the Force the following Saturday.
- Sydney Morning Herald
Should there be golden point extra time in Super Rugby?Related story: (See story)