Lote Tuqiri shown the door by ARU

Roscoe Tims July 1, 2009 63

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UPDATED UPDATE – Friday 3 July: Lote Tuqiri has so far refused to comment on the reasons for his sacking, only prepared to say that the matter will now be in the hands of his solicitors and is sub judice (or words to that effect). The mail is that the previously surmised Crown Casino late night episode may have facilitated a code of conduct breach, which has contributed to his demise. Channel Nine is reporting that Lote was offered 6 months dosh to end his contract but that he declined.

UPDATE – Thursday 2 July: At a press conference this morning, where the Wallaby Tri-Nations squad was announced, ARU chief John O’Neill refused to discuss or expand on the Tuqiri dismissal. He sited the pending legal action as the reason for not being able to comment. 

O’Neill confirmed the police were not involved and said he had consulted with Tuqiri’s Super 14 club the NSW Waratahs and they had agreed with the decision. He indicated that Tuqiri was aware of the reasons for the contract termination and he was free to discuss that in the media if he so wished.

Lote Tuqiri has been sacked by the ARU. His contract with the Australian Rugby Union has been terminated, the ARU announced yesterday. 

The statement said: “The employment contract of Lote Tuqiri has been terminated effective today. The ARU has treated this issue as a standard employment matter. The ARU will not make any further comment on the matter as it may be the subject of legal proceedings.”

Tuqiri was contracted to the ARU until after the next World Cup. It was rumoured that his contract was worth in excess of $700,000 + third party sponsorship. The circumstances of the transgression is not yet known although an investigation into breaches of the players’ code of conduct had been admitted last week .

It has been reported that Tuqiri will fight his sacking and has retained solicitor Mr Mark O’Brien and Mr Tony Marr, SC, to commence proceedings against the ARU.

An internet report has suggested that four high-profile rugby players were involved in an off-field incident that may be related to a late night drinking session at Crown Casino in Melbourne just prior to the Italian test.

In August 2007 Tuqiri was issued with a final warning letter after being involved in a late-night drinking session at the Wallabies’ hotel in Brisbane after which one of his drinking companions (a Broncos lower grade player) allegedly assaulted a taxi driver. Lote was on the sauce with Tuckey and Special K.

He was confined to barracks during the World Cup campaign. There have been a series of incidents involving Tuqiri that have had an obvious influence in the ARU’s actions taken today.

In 2005, he was involved in a nightclub blue in Cape Town which resulted in Matt Henjak being ejected from the Wallaby tour. Tuqiri was given a suspended two-match sentence and fined.

He failed a fitness test at a Wallabies training camp in early 2007 and sent home for remedial work.

Later in 2007 he was banned for two matches  for failing to attend a team medical, and failed a team breath test. He was also fined $20,000.

He’s played 67-Tests for the Wallabies.

He was another of those high profile league converts that have met a sticky end. Is this an indicator that rugby league players really don’t fit the union culture?

Lote Tuqiri - Test Career     

DOB: 23.9.79      Height: 191cms       Weight: 103kgs 

Super 14: Waratahs 2003 – 2009, 84 caps

Wallaby Tests: 2003 – 2008, 67 caps

Position: Wing/Centre

2003 – Made his Test debut against Ireland in Perth as a replacement. Played in all 14 Tests for the Wallabies that year, scoring five tries.

2004 – Played in all 12 Tests and scored 10 tries (the Wallabies leading try scorer).

2005 – 12 Test appearances totalling 10 tries including a terrific four-try haul against Italy in Melbourne. Selected as an outside centre on the end of season European tour.

2006 – Another 12 Test appearances for the Wallabies. He missed one game in South Africa due to suspension. He played both wing and centre in the end of year tour to Italy, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. 

2007 - Played in tests against Wales, Fiji and in the Tri-Nations tournament. Attended his second Rugby World Cup, posting the 50th try of his union test career during the quarter-final loss to England.

2008 – Selected in 8 of Australia’s 9 domestic Tests. Only knee surgery prevented him from playing in all the spring tour matches, appearing in the final 2 including scoring Australia’s opening try during the win over the Barbarians at Wembley.

Discussion

  • Max

    Sounds like coke strikes again…and not in the advertising sense

    • Juan Cote

      No way, if it were drugs it would have been mentioned by the World Anit-Doping Agency as well

      • Epi

        If it were a WADA test a la Wendell – Not if it was internal.

        Don’t think it would be drugs though… there’s still B Samples etc. to go through. You wouldn’t sack someone in such a short time frame if this was the case.

  • Jatz

    He failed Deans IQ test…

  • piggies 7

    fuck me , thats crazy…you wouldnt think itd be alcohol or drugs, he has a wife and kids…i personally think he got into a biff.but shit, hes been a pretty big part of the wallabies in terms of generating press and stuff especially in NSW…this is going to be intresting

  • GC

    Well there’s a bit of cash freed up to keep Diggers and Barnes.

    • Lance Free

      There’s a report tonight quoting Digger’s saying that he will now re-sign with the Reds. A quick cash injection from the ARU perhaps?

  • Epi

    Woah.. That is a bolt out of the blue. Let the speculation begin I guess…

  • Davey

    Over-hyped, over-rated, over-paid and now just over! He’ll be in Toulon with SBW and co prior to the commencement of the Top 14 season.

  • jonno

    I’d suggest that anyone over-paid and out-of-form is liable to a much scricter interpretation of any “code of conduct” clauses in their employment contract.

    As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be a technical breach of a curfew or something relatively minor (food fight perhaps?), rather than something outrageous like bashing a female fan. If it was something in that league (pun intended) I reckon JO’N is savy enough to get on the front foot with the media, not let it look like there’s been a cover-up.

    Plus the report in the herald makes it clear that pending “legal proceedings” relates to the employment dispute, nothing criminal. Which would rule out (one assumes) aggro or drugs.

    • Juan Cote

      The fact he has already hired two silks suggets you are fairly close to the mark Jonno.

    • Lance Free

      Jonno – I’m 100% with you. I think it will turn out to be a minor transgression i.e breach curfew and/or no alcohol policy during training camp etc. As he is presumably still under the provisions of the final warning, they’re effecting a timely disposal of his not inexpensive and no longer required services. There’s no way it’s dope (see Epi above).

      I’d of course have no doubt whatsoever that the ARU silks would have run the fine tooth comb over this prior to any action taking place and you’d think justification would be relatively watertight.

      Forget rugby league, they couldn’t afford him. In my opinion, Tuqiri would be a huge attraction to European franchises and have no doubt that a number would have already been on the dog and bone to his agent. He’d attract $A750,000 to a mil I’d reckon. Au revoir and bon chance.

      PS Pity it’s not a State of Origin week……

      • Dan

        Why oh why? If this is a minor indiscretion it is a joke. We all know he hasn’t played the last month but geez I would still like him to be around this year to lend his experience to the Tri Nations & Grand Slam tour. Bugger! If he is leaving rugby I would love him at Parra!

    • Ed

      Yeah agree, they thought he was on the way out and didn’t want to waste all that cash the previous admin threw at him. Sounds typically ruthless of JON.

      I was so sure he was bout to come good as well! Couldn’t they have waited till the tri-nations was over

  • Dave

    I reckon the ARU have been following Lote around. Hired a couple of sleuths to record indiscretions, no matter how minute.
    They dropped him without respect and then said if he performs at club level he’s back in the reckoning. Ridiculous. Redefine Western Harbour into a major force, from the wing, and we’ll consider him.
    Lote was one of the go forward guys at the Waratahs when the backline was a shambles this season. He had a red hot go, everytime.
    How can Lote be judged on the end of the Waratahs backline this season. He constantly went looking for work, trying to revive a semblance of something from a shambolic nothing and is then criticised as non puritanical winger who should operate within the tramline. What rubbish.
    Any winger or outside back worth his salt plays what is in front of him. Running around but not into touch, having the strength and technique to set maul up and create another phase. This is what Lote does time and time again.
    Take the bastards to court Lote. You will definitely win.

    • Cutter

      Great reasoning Dave. Only problem is that Lachlan Turner was on the other end of the same backline and shone with the few chances he had.

      Lote was never a natural rugby player. An amazing athlete, but not an amazing rugby player.

      • Ed

        They aren’t paying turner a million a season

      • http://beerandsport.net Moses

        Lote’s not an amazing athlete either, they stuck him on Australia’s Greatest Athlete and he came 6th out of 8!

        • Cameron

          Come off it, that show was hardly a scientific analysis of athletic prowess

        • Patrick

          He won the hitting!

          And Billy Slater showed us all just how co-ordinated he is, little freak. He might have won the hitting too but Lote had a huge advantage being taller.

  • Juan Cote

    For what it is worth, he is the link to the ARU’s code of conduct.

    Not sure if it the specific ‘player’s code of conduct’ or just the usual touchy-feely code.

    http://www.rugby.com.au/verve/_resources/CoC(web).pdf

    I suppose clauses 3.ii.(l) and 3. ii.(m) are the ones that will be under question?

  • Cutter

    If it was nothing serious, wouldnt Lote get on the front foot? ie yes I went to the casino but I wasnt playing and bla bla bla.

    The less he says the more likely its serious.

  • Eddo

    Unbelievable,..

    Nothing up on Lotetuqiri.com.au yet

    Anyone subscribing to his twits got any info?
    The timing of this reeks of JON.

    • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com Gagger

      Twits are pretty quiet, and I reckon they’ll stay that way sub judice (yeah, I’ve read Grisham)

      You can only admire the Professor of Rat Cunning at Cunningham University: JO’N
      .-= Gagger´s last blog ..Lote Tuqiri shown the door by ARU =-.

      • Patrick

        I’d twit like hell, it’s not a criminal matter, there is no jury, and even if both conditions were satisfied he could say a hell of lot without breaking any rules.

        For starters:
        – I’m innocent
        – All I want is the chance to represent Australia again
        – If I was only after the money I would already be in Europe
        – JON is a fag
        – If I ever get my hands on that fag…

        (ok, maybe that last wouldn’t be so wise!)

        • James

          dude do you know what happened?
          no one knows what went down

      • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com Gagger

        So you think his lawyers will advise him to give all a good spray?

        They must be those “fuck it, just let loose” lawyers I haven’t come across yet :)

        .-= Gagger´s last blog ..Lote Tuqiri shown the door by ARU =-.

        • Eddo

          haha..

          I had one of those lawyers once.. Prick charged me a ton too – for screwing me.

          They’re out there.

  • Patrick

    If I was he I would sue for the compo (but only if I could get the lawyers on a no-win-no-fee!) and skedaddle to rainy Euroville.

    He’ll star over there, and get all the love (!) he wants, plus the riches.

  • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com Gagger

    I feel for Lote as a human – that’s one kick in the nads he’s just had.

    However,

    If you ramp up the negotiations enough and walk away with (was it $6m?) the “Steve Austin” package, then you’ve well and truly put your head above the parapet and you’re dancing with the devil. You’re now one of the biggest outgoings on the books and it only takes a slump in form and/or tightening of belts and KABLAM – JO’N takes you out with an email

    LET ALONE various misdemeanors that get you to a formal warning.

    With the higher reward should come the higher risk.

    Having said all that – isn’t it quite possible that he’ll earn more in France?
    .-= Gagger´s last blog ..Lote Tuqiri shown the door by ARU =-.

    • http://therugbyman.com Stu Andrews

      In my head I agree with you Gagger.

      But in my heart, as a man-bro in touch with his feelings, this makes me sad.

      I liked Lote. I always admired what he did on the field.

      He had gumption. He stuck with the code while others crumbled and fell away.

      Yup, he made himself a high-profile target.

      Still, I’m sad.

      • ElDave

        I think we’re all talkin around the same thing here. The ARU recruited some high profile Leaguies and paid for it. They certainly added pizzaz to the Waratahs, but over time how many times did Lote get penalised for not releasing the ball because his backup was non existent? He’s good, but he ain’t a one man team. The Waratah’s boring, “win ugly” gameplan has led to falling sales. Staging Test matches at ANZ doesn’t pull in the crowds either. Looks like Lote is just the expedient answer to saving a bit of money

  • Eddo

    I keep checking back in to see who has the good snitch out there…

    C’mon fellas – let’s get this out in the open.. Better to get it out amongst the real fans here than in the Telegraph, where Lote will be like a leaguies ex-girlfriend with glass in her eye… did I say that?

  • Slab

    There was an article in the Australian a few weeks ago about Tuqiri, AAC and Hynes at the Crowne Casino after the first test v Italy. Wonder if that had anything to do with this…I tend to think so.

    http://tinyurl.com/nfcekq

  • Henry

    “There was an article in the Australian a few weeks ago about Tuqiri, AAC and Hynes at the Crowne Casino after the first test v Italy.”

    Rowdy outside backs…

  • Robson

    So far so sad, but nobody knows the full story yet, do they????

    Lets face it he has been guilty of quite a few off field misdeamenours and there is a limit. Highly paid athletes getting a high profile for the wrong reasons does a lot of harm to their sport. This is no different and while I’m sad for Lote, rugby employers all round the world need to clean up their act on player discipline.

  • Sears

    Conspiracy theory time. Does anyone know whether there were any changes to workplace laws that came into affect yesterday which would bolster the ARU’s contract termination? Or is the boning on 1st July simply coincidence?

    • Patrick

      In general, the number of IR laws affecting people on that kind of money is about nil.

      But July 1 is an unusual date – possibly something to do with JON getting the board together or sth..?

      Yep, Stu, he could very likely get more in France. I reckon the Tahs will miss him though.

      • http://therugbyman.com Stu Andrews

        I reckon the Tahs will miss him most of all, and their head-honchos should rue the day they squandered him.

  • spaceman

    this sucks. Lote for awhile, rwc 2003-2007 was the form winger for australia. to drop him like cold turkey is pretty crazy imo.

    he was my fav player for a long time.

  • Belly

    1 million is a shitload of coin, but people need to remember that Lote got paid for two things – his playing abilities and marketing value, both of which served the Wallabies well, and the ARU in sticking up the mungos and stealing some of their fanbase.

    Other stars (sports, movies and otherwise) get paid to have their image used…in Lote’s case, he sold his to the ARU to be posted all over billboards, in magazines, junior development kits, t-shirts, TV advertisements, website, time at sponsor functions and development days etc etc. That’s where the majority of his fee went.

    So now’s there’s a bit freed up. The amount a player messes with his hairdo/look is proportional to the coin he can command…

    Turner isn’t there yet, and needs a lot of work in terms of his marketability. Diggers has a bit of potential if he sticks around. Hynes needs to get a few tats or something to jazz things up. AAC is on the right track, but it might be worth him getting with Paris Hilton or Tanya Zaetta to up his star value…

    • Lance Free

      Good point Belly. We certainly got value for money from Lote in terms of both playing the game and expanding our code’s footprint. He was, without doubt, the star mungo signing with the right rugby attributes.

      It’s disappointing and a bit of a shock to see him go in this manner, however, the nature of the beast has changed. This is how it now happens in the professional world. It’s cold, hard and uncompromising and I’m saddened by it, but that’s business.

      • Cameron

        Berrick Barnes is emerging as a highly marketable player — seems to feature prominently in foxsports highlights packages, recent promotional material etc. seems like a top bloke.

        Feel sorry for Lote, and am reserving judgement until more information comes through…on the one hand I can understand why the ARU wants to take a hard line to guard against the type of scandals that dog the rival codes, but what has he done? Gagger’s argument of “high reward, high risk,” is compelling, but if its just a late night on the town, he would seem very hard done by.

      • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/ Gagger

        My point on the risk has nothing to do with the severity of his latest fuckup (whatever it was), and more that if you’re the biggest line on the expenditure list then people are going to look very hard at you, especially when the chips are down.

    • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/ Gagger

      Yeah, good points.

      My tip for poster boy is JO’C

      • Patrick

        JOC and Barnes could be the new wonder SNAG Rugby marketing couple…

  • Kinghitz

    Costa gone! Well f*ck me! That’s a lote moola left over to throw at the Reds and try flog that dead horse!

  • Dean Apostolou

    Administrators often believe sponsors and fans will follow blindly …. rugby union is about tradition … irrespectve of the reason the ARU’s role is to manage the rugby brand in that light .. all they have one with Lote’s and other great players whose time had come to go is crap on the their own brand and in doing so have fundamentally damaged alienated us all ..

  • Pedro

    If he was gonna get boned you’d want him to still be a weapon on the field. So this is how it ends, in a whimper not a bang. Poor lote spent the last 12 months not getting the ball at the tahs then not making the team for the wallabies.

    In my opinion, Tuqiri’s form dropped after he got suspended for that sweet tackle on McCaw. Before that I would say he was world class, after, so predictable.

    He’s still better than Dell was.

    • Patrick

      That was a great tackle, I always thought he got bloody hard done by there.

  • ElDave

    Well let’s look at what Lote HASN’T done: Hasn’t king hit opponent in front of 50k+ AFL fans, breaking the dude’s jaw; hasn’t been involved, with teammates in a shooting outside a King’s Cross niteclub; hasn’t ‘glassed’ his girlfriend, got her to back him up and blamed his flatmate and ultimately received 8 months in the ‘Big House’; hasn’t been accused of raping an underage neighbour after a drunken media function where one of his teammates punched a sponsor; hasn’t been picked up by police,under the influence of a myriad of drugs, gibbering like a fool; hasn’t broken his club contract, run off to France to play a different code of football aided and abetted by a former football star now boxing champion. I mean, what gives? Lote is clearly bringing the game of Rugby into REPUTE. He has to go! JO’N is right. And while we’re discussing ‘gift’ ideas, lets stage more Test matches in cities where Rugby is unknown to bring the game to new fans. How about Wallabies Vs. ABs in Ho Chi Minh City, or closer to home in say, Alice Springs? That should fill ARU coffers, plus saving on Lote’s salary, we should have enough for a great director’s Xmas party…

  • Lance Free

    ElDave – do I note a hint of cynicism in your post?

    Some valid points. At least he hasn’t raped and pillaged like some of our other mungo friends…..

    • ElDave

      well maybe, just a tich…

  • http://therugbyman.com Stu Andrews

    I’m even sadder than I was last night recording the Episode.

    It WAS a crowd eulogy! Noooo!
    .-= Stu Andrews´s last blog ..Episode #10 – The “Lote Sacked” Episode =-.

  • Jabs

    Sad isn’t it for JON to simply put Lote away…I think Robbie is behind it too, watch the New Zealander’s take away the match winners for the Wallabies, one by one before the 2011 World Cup!

    • ElDave

      Love your conspiracy theory, Jabs. Don’t think Lote can play with cousin Joe, [needs residency] but taking him out of OUR lineup has a similar effect.

  • mudskipper

    The less Lote says the stronger his case will be in front of the Judge… Small breaks in protocol don’t add up to loosing millions in payment…Additionally Past events over 2 years ago are hardly topical or relevant, especially when the real transgression was cause by someone other than Lote after he had left Lote’s company… A Judge will find this heavy handed and will reward Lote a huge amount of his outstanding contract and costs… This case will set an enormous legal precedent for sports contracts and law…

  • Jabs

    Agree on Mudskipper, so fellow sporstmen and sportswomen, Lote’s case will decide our future regarding termination of contracts

  • slater

    I personally want to know what robbie deans thinks of this whole fiasco!…he mentioned in the media conference that he had already picked Tuqiri in his tri nations squad before they told him that they sacked him…sounds like he found out just like everybody else…he def looked pissed at that media conference i should add…

  • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/ Gagger

    Think of it from JO’Ns perspective (scary I know).

    Couple of years back Lote fucked around so much that they had to publicly slap a final warning on him.

    It looks like he’s gone and done something else (whether big or small) that’s eventually going to go public. Even if it doesn’t go public, the whole squad will know what happened.

    So what can JO’N do now?

    If he tries to ignore it, or give yet another warning his credibility is shot and the squad knows they can fuck around endlessly. Say another non megastar then does something and gets sanctioned – imagine the bitching then about Lote being a favourite etc then.

    JO’N has no choice but to bone him – everyone was painted into a corner and it sounds like Lote’s forced their hands.

    • slater

      true! and come to think of it, i kinda like the approach that the aru have taken by not blabbing on about what really happened. Instead they have let lote take on that role in letting the media know his reasons behind his sacking…whether or not he’ll do that is another story!

  • Tommo

    Yeah, I’m a Pom. I know we’re shite right now, had the therapy and I’m dealing with it.
    Enjoyable to watch from afar though as you sack your best players and the SA’s make total
    knobs of themselves supporting Bakkies “the night club doorman” Botha. Just the AB’s to go,
    how about some pic’s of Dan Carter in a summer dress and high heels ?
    I might have a penny or two on us for the next RWC then !

    • http://patrick patrick

      Um, can I have your pennies then? If you think us sacking Lote does England one iota of good then sonny you need to stop smoking that shite!

      Thing is we have better reserve backs than you have first picks in every position. So sacking Lote won’t hurt us vis-à-vis you of all nations.

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