In a move that is sure to please the majority of NRL fans, the Australian Rugby League Commission has made the decision to ban Cowboys half Robert Lui for the remainder of the 2012 NRL Telstra Premiership.
Following the NRL’s meetings with both Cowboys Chief Executive Peter Jourdain, and representatives from the Cronulla Sharks – the decision was made to ban Lui for the rest of the year, – with the Cronulla Sharks also handing a nine-match suspension on their winger Issac Gordon, who has been serving that suspension since the beginning of the year, meaning he is eligible to play from Rd 10 onwards.
â€œThe Cowboys and Sharks have joined the ARLC in making a clear statement about the need to prevent violence against women,â€ ARL Commission Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said
â€œWith regard to Robert Lui, he has been suspended since the day of his guilty verdict and there has been a need since then to consider the welfare of Robertâ€™s partner Tahleah, his son, and Robertâ€™s own ongoing welfare in what is a difficult family circumstance.
â€œThe Cowboys are not taking that responsibility lightly and it has been important to give the club and the family time to fully comprehend the circumstance of the judgment and the most effective ways to move forward before confirming a penalty.
â€œAt the same time there is a need to send a strong message to the community and, as the first sport to make such an emphatic statement, we would encourage others to follow Rugby Leagueâ€™s lead in the future.
â€œRugby League has been a founding member of the White Ribbon campaign to end violence against women, it is an active participant in the Federal Governmentâ€™s Reducing Violence Against Women project and has ambassadors like David Peachey and Ricky Walford co-ordinating 21 grass-roots clubs this year in the NSW Governmentâ€™s â€˜Tackling Domestic Violenceâ€™ program.
â€œThrough â€˜Playing By The Rulesâ€™ programs that have set international standards in promoting positive attitudes to women, through the participation of past and present players as trained educators in â€˜Respectful Relationshipsâ€™ and sexual ethics programs and through the growing number of women actively involved in the gameâ€™s administration, Rugby League has demonstrated a conviction that goes far beyond simply saying the right thing.â€
Jourdain takes the matter of preventing domestic violence in the NRL very seriously, and hopes that this is the final wake-up call that Lui needed, to extend his NRL career.
â€œIt is important to remember that we are dealing with real lives and our first priority from the moment we stood Robert down from playing has been the ongoing welfare of Tahleah, his son, as well as Robert.
â€œWe ensured Robert did not play while those matters were professionally assessed and the club will continue to provide ongoing counselling for Robert and support for his partner and son, who remain very much together as a family.â€
On Issac Gordon, the club dealt with the matter appropriately, fining Gordon an undisclosed fee, and giving him a ban of nine games, which will end in Rd 10.
â€œIt is not possible to go into all the details of the private lives of those involved but having reviewed the circumstances we accept that this is an appropriate outcome,â€ Mr Gallop said.
â€œThat said, it is important that we have taken the time to work with the club to try and comprehend the issues involved.
â€œAs much as people may call for automatic penalties, they are neither fair nor practical given the divergent circumstances and the degrees of severity that can be involved.
â€œThese are matters that must be looked at in the context of each individual circumstance.â€
Darren Mooney, who is the Sharks General Manager of Football said:
â€œIsaac knows he did the wrong thing and it was completely out of character for someone who has never had a disciplinary issue of any kind.
â€œHe accepts the need for a penalty but, more importantly, he accepts and has been an active partner in dealing with this issue through counselling and rehabilitation and the club will continue to work through this process with Isaac.â€