The massive problem facing rugby league and rugby union.

You can’t please all the people all the time, but rugby codes are attempting to do just that. They are attempting to appease the LGBTQIA+ community and the devoutly religious at the same time.

Several Manly players recently refused to play in an upcoming NRL match to protest the club’s rainbow jersey promoting the LGBTQIA+ community, and the incident highlights the dangers of sporting organisations trying to appease every member of the community simultaneously.

Seven players are considering boycotting the game against the Sydney Roosters because they object to the promotion of LGBTQIA+ rights on religious grounds. All seven players are devoutly religious and mostly of Pasifika heritage. Players are also angry that they were not consulted about the ‘rainbow’ jersey and that they learned about it through social media.

Manly is the first NRL club to wear a rainbow jersey, and the incident highlights an issue confronting rugby league and rugby union into the future. The jersey was introduced in order to promote inclusion and diversity, and was created to include ‘everyone’ at the northern beaches club.

But does it include everyone?

Obviously not. It does not ‘include’ devout Christians and players of Pasifika heritage, the latter so strongly opposed to the jersey that they are willing to sit out an important game, and presumably sacrifice match payments. Manly is very, very unlikely to win the game against the Roosters without Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley. (That is, unless the Roosters players of Pasifika heritage also sit out the game in solidarity). It is being called a ‘must win’ game for the Sea Eagles as they try to finish inside the top 8, having already lost superstar Tom Trbojevic through injury.

Furthermore, the jersey is surely an example of bad timing. It will be worn during ‘Women in League’ round, and this debate will take most of the attention away from women and their great contribution to the game.

The conundrum

Does Manly appease a small section of their supporter base, or potential new supporters, or does the club appease an existing group of people on whom they are dependant? Put simply, you can’t win NRL (or Super Rugby) games without Pasifika players.

“Never just about pride”

Manly owner Scott Penn argues the jersey is not just about promoting the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community, but in the modern context, ‘inclusion and diversity’ is used to welcome members of the LBGTQIA+ community. This is a large community, but it does not encompass everyone. It does not encompass the devoutly religious, and it does not include most rugby league and rugby union players of Pasifika heritage.

What is it really about?

Manly may be genuinely attempting to welcome members of the LGBTQIA+ community into a sport traditionally closed to non-heteronormative people – or the club could simply be chasing the lucrative Pink Dollar.

The issue will plague rugby league and union from now and into the future. Inclusion and diversity is becoming more prominent in social discourse every year, and every major organisation and corporation must declare a public policy on this subject. Sporting codes must also address the issue. At the same time, rugby league and rugby union must welcome and respect the Pasifika community.

Players of Pasifika heritage comprise about 50% of the registered players in the NRL, and the current Wallabies squad includes 16 of 34 players. Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua debuted in Super Rugby in 2022.

The women’s game is also not immune to the issue. In fact, it may be even more susceptible to the clash of two opposing ‘stakeholders’. Pasifika players also comprise a high percentage of players across the two rugby codes in the women’s game, but also includes more players in openly same-sex relationships. Interestingly, only one ARL/NRL player has ever come out as openly gay, and that was former Manly player Ian Roberts. Women’s football, meanwhile, has already experienced a conflict in this regard.

Haneen Zreika refused to wear the pride jersey when her Greater Western Sydney Giants AFLW team played against Western Bulldogs in 2022 because she is a devout Muslim. Zreika sat out that game. The AFL has a far longer history of supporting the LGBTQIA+ community than league or union, but was not immune to controversy. The Giants were stuck between reaching out to the LGBTQIA+ community, while appeasing the large Muslim community in their heartland of Western Sydney. That said, the incident passed without a great deal of controversy, especially compared to the controversy which surrounded Israel Folau’s social media comments.

Folau lost his contract with Rugby Australia after posting homophobic comments on social media. Folau held the same views while playing AFL (for the Giants) and NRL. Many former teammates from across the three codes ‘liked’ Folau’s comments and thus endorsed them. Many of those players were of Pasifika heritage.

Rugby Australia relies heavily on Pasifika talent, as outlined above, but also relies heavily on sponsorship dollars, much of which was coming from Qantas at the time of Folau’s faux pas. Qantas proudly welcomes the LGBTQIA+ community and is being run by the openly gay Alan Joyce. One cannot underestimate the influence of sponsors (and the Pink Dollar) in the decisions of sporting clubs regarding diversity and inclusion.

The future

Fellow NRL clubs will surely follow Manly’s precedent. It’s inevitable. Their players will have to make a choice – or be forced to make a choice, and the same applies to players in rugby union, many of whom have Pasifika heritage and are devoutly religious. The rugby codes, meanwhile, will have to negotiate a very complex situation in order to keep up with community attitudes and appease a community which sustains the standard of their ‘product’.

Image: NuNa

Kevin Proctor just wants to be noticed.

Poor Kevin. All he wanted was some attention.

He used to get attention. He used to be captain of the Gold Coast Titans. He used to play for New Zealand and he won a premiership with the mighty Melbourne Storm. Now he’s attracted so much attention for vaping at half time that the Titans sacked him and judges nominated him for The Frownlow Medal.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.

Poor Kevin was so desperate for the attention he used to enjoy that he started vaping during the half-time break of a game. He vaped in the dressing room toilet, which is not allowed. He was so desperate for attention he filmed himself vaping, even though players are not allowed to use cellphones inside the dressing rooms. Proctor wasn’t playing in the game, but was part of the extended squad.

He still wanted even more attention, so after filming himself vaping, he uploaded the video to his Instagram account. The video carried the caption “not the halftime vape”, and saw him inhaling and then shaking his head with the Titans down 26-10 at the time.

This is not the first time Proctor has attracted the attention of Frownlow judges. In 2017 he was nominated after being dropped from the New Zealand World Cup team for possession of illicit drugs, and in 2020 was dropped from the Titans leadership group and suspended for four matches for biting fellow Kiwi Shaun Johnson during a NRL match.

What does poor Kevin do now?

The 33-year-old could retire, because he’s not likely to earn another contract in the NRL, or he could join The Fronwow Medal Old Boys Club in the English Super League. Either way, he won’t receive as much attention as he did in his glory days.

Poor Kevin.

Image: NuNa

Adam Heuskes nominated for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.

Former AFL player Adam Heuskes has been nominated for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame after being accused of rape twice in two years.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.

The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.

Heuskes was accused of rape in 1999 and 2000 while still playing AFL.

The first incident is alleged to have occurred in London while Heuskes was on an end of season trip, and became the subject of an episode of Four Corners on the ABC.

In that episode, a woman known as Sarah alleged that she met Heuskes in a London pub and stayed at the house of a mutual friend that evening. In that house, the woman claimed that Heuskes raped her while at least four of his Brisbane Lions teammates watched on.

Sarah is said to have reported the incident two weeks later to Scotland Yard detectives, but by then Heuskes and his teammates were back in Australia. All players disputed the claim and no charges were laid.

In July 2000, Heuskes quit the Lions, citing boredom. A fortnight later, he was accused of raping another woman, this time outside a nightclub in Adelaide. Six weeks after the allegations, however, the South Australian DPP, Paul Rofe, withdrew the charges saying there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction on any criminal charges.

The woman was eventually paid $200,000 as part of a confidentiality agreement.

Heuskes was never found guilty of either charge. He is now happily married, and is free to attend this year’s awards night for The Fronwlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.

Image: NuNa


Queensland to win State of Origin 3 in a nailbiter.

Cameron Munster’s absence won’t stop Queensland from winning the State of Origin decider 8-6 at Lang Park this evening.

The Maroons will be without their star play maker but will still field more nominees for The Fronwlow Medal and will thus stop the trophy from travelling south of the Tweed.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.

Munster is himself a Frownlow nominee and has been ruled out of the big game with COVID-19, but his team still boasts eight players who have covered themselves in glory off the field, compared to the Blues who could only find 6.

It’s impossible to win a game of rugby league without a Frownlow nominee or two in the team. Penrith fielded a number of nominees in the grand final in 2021, including star Nathan Cleary. In fact, the team itself earned a nomination when players broke the trophy during post-match celebrations – proving that rugby league success and Frownlow glory go hand in hand.

Both captains for tonight’s clash have been nominated, and lead teams with the following nominees:

Queensland

Kalyn Ponga

Selwyn Cobbo

Valentine Holmes

Corey Oates

Daly Cherry-Evans

Ben Hunt

Josh Papali’i

Jai Arrow

Ironically, many of these players earned their first nomination for breaking curfew during a Queensland Origin camp some years ago.

New South Wales

James Tedesco

Stephen Crichton

Nathan Cleary

Api Koroisau

Junior Paulo

Siosifa Talakai

Image: http://www.nrl.com

Justin Sherman’s Racist Slur.

Former AFL player Justin Sherman has been nominated for The Fronwlow Medal Hall of Fame after admitting to a racist slur.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.

The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.

Sherman was playing for the Western Bulldogs in 2011 when he racially vilified a Gold Coast Suns player during a match, and later admitted to the offence.

Sherman was suspended for four matches and made a donation of $5000 to a charity. He also publicly apologised to the player involved and took part in the Bulldogs multicultural and community programs, and volunteered for the Red Dust Role Models program which provides mentoring and support in remote indigenous communities.

Sherman participated in these programs after he was caught racially vilifying a player on the field. This begs the questions:

Would he have participated in these programs if he was not serving a punishment?

Do professional footballers participate in such programs of their own free will, or only when required to by their club’s PR team?

Image: NuNa

Collingwood Magpies launch Fakebook.

Collingwood Football Club has launched a new social media platform called Fakebook after Jack Ginnivan and Isaac Quaynor were caught rating the attractiveness of women online.

Ginnivan and Quaynor have earned nominations for The Fronwlow Medal for the deleted Tik Tok post, and will spearhead the new social media platform created to rival Facebook.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.

Fakebook will be like Facebook in every way, even in it’s creation.

“You know how Facebook was created?” asked Ginnivan at the launch of Fakebook at the MCG.

“By rating women,” explained Quaynor.

“That’s right,” they continued. “That Zuckerberg guy got dropped by his girlfriend or something, so he started a website rating the physical attractiveness of women on his college campus in the States – now it’s a mega corporation.”

“Well, we can rate the physical appearance of women online, so we started Fakebook with some help from the Magpies.”

The players created controversy when they filmed themselves laying in bed, rating the features of women as part of a viral game on TikTok.

“But we’re better than Zuckerberg,” they stated.

“See, we don’t just rate their appearance, we re-rate them after new information is revealed. Zuckerberg didn’t think of that.”

In the viral video, the players say things like:

“She’s a 10, but got some … teeth, like them teeth are going every which way, diagonal, everything,”

“F***** hell. Four.”

“She’s a nine and a half, but is homeless.”

“Two and a half.”

Magpies bosses, still on a high after Jordan De Goey’s latest Frownlow nomination, explained the decision to appoint Ginnivan and Quaynor as ambassadors of Fakebook.

“Ginnivan and Quaynor have proven their ability to rate women based purely on physical appearance, and this is why they will be the faces of the new platform.”

“Furthermore, the TikTok post is crass, immature, popular, lame, offensive, poorly-made and divisive, and this is exactly the kind of content which has made Facebook so successful. Fakebook will be even more successful because all of it’s content will be produced by professional footballers.”

The TikTok video which prompted the creation of Fakebook showed Ginnivan and Quaynor giving women constantly low ratings, which might explain why they’re lying in bed together shirtless.

Image: http://www.onlymelbourne.com.au

Jordan De Goey has had enough.

Jordan De Goey is fed up. He’s sick of it. He’s had enough.

The AFL player is sick and tired of being nominated for The Frownlow Medal again and again and never winning the award. For Jordan, enough is enough.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.

De Goey is so angry at not winning the medal that he used a phrase/hashtag that is used to highlight entrenched gender inequality or the plight of mass shooting victims in the USA. On a recent social media rant attacking the media and other critics, he used the phrase ‘enough is enough’ to compare his plight to the plight of people who suffer some of the worst fate imaginable.

The post provoked a massive response from the media, De Goey’s fans, former players and many other people, but they all missed one important fact. What frustrates De Goey more than anything is not winning The Frownlow Medal.

“Enough is Enough,” he said.

“What else do I have to do?”

“I’ve been nominated so many times for this award and still no medal. Nothing.”

“Look, I got nominated in 2017, 2018 and 2020, then in 2021 I got nominated 3 times for three separate incidents, and now in 2022 I’ve got two nominations. Fair dinkum, what’s a guy gotta do?”

“Even this time, I put in the hard yards for a nomination. I went to Bali – which is full of drunken Aussie bogans – and where everyone ends up doing something stupid. Then I went to a club, I made all these rude gestures to the camera and it went viral. You think it’s easy doing that? You think it just happens? No, it takes planning, the right club, the right lighting, enough refreshments and the right time of the night to act like that – but still no medal. And then, at one point, someone in the video tries to get a chick to take her top off and expose her breasts when she’s lying on the bar, I mean, that’s basically sexual harassment if you think about it, but will I win the medal this year, who knows?”

“And even after that I cried about being mistreated by the media and created even more controversy. I mean, The Frownlow Medal lives off controversy, and I’ve given them enough controversy in the last few years…”

Is De Goey right. Has he done enough to win The Fronwlow Medal in 2022?

Image: Getty Images

Kerem Bulut gets supersized.

Former A-League player Kerem Bulut always wants more.

More action, more excitement, more adrenaline and more fries.

And more chances to be inducted into The Fronwlow Medal Hall of Fame.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.

The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.

Bulut received his first Frownlow nomination for a variety of offences, and his second for demanding more fries.

The former Western Sydney Wanderers player was charged with intimidation in 2021 at Auburn McDonald’s in Sydney’s west. Sources claim Bulut and his friends argued with a staff member after Bulut tried to order more fries before the staff member could attempt to upsize him. The argument attracted police and Bulut was eventually granted conditional bail.

McDonald’s was a sponsor of the Wanderers at the time.

Bulut earned his first Frownlow nomination after being charged with assault, larceny and drug offences. He spent seven months in prison while awaiting trial for the for alleged assault of a man early in 2021. He was granted bail and forced to attend a drug rehabilitation program, as well as being told to report to police daily, avoid consuming drugs and alcohol, and to avoid any contact with the alleged victim.

The allegations stem from an alleged altercation with a man known to Bulut, who claims the former Young Socceroo assaulted him in an apartment in Sydney due to a dispute over $500. It is alleged that Bulut snatched the money from the man, and that seven months later the man demanded the money back, prompting the alleged assault.

It’s certainly a strange incident, but not the strangest incident which has resulted in a Fronwlow nomination. It’s also not known whether the alleged victim was eating, or in possession of, fries at the time.

The courts will also determine whether Bulut is guilty of assaulting a cellmate at Silverwater Prison while on remand in March 2021. The alleged victim was taken to hospital with a broken eye socket and bruising to his head.

While surrounding himself in controversy, the national junior representative also surrounded himself in glory. He scored seven goals in six games to win the Golden Boot at the 2010 AFC U/19 Championships, and he played for Australia at the 2011 FIFA U/20 World Cup. Unfortunately, his love of French Fries and his friends destroyed his international football career. He and other members of the Muslim Brotherhood Militants clashed with the police as far back as 2010, when Bulut was arrested for alleged offences including malicious wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm; robbery in company; participate in criminal group; assist criminal activity, affray and intimidation of court witnesses.

Police alleged the victims were attacked with knives in a carpark in Auburn and suffered wounds to the head, torso and leg, and that this attack was part of an ongoing feud involving incidents in the Sydney CBD and Bondi Beach. The police case against Bulut was ultimately withdrawn as the witnesses were unwilling to give evidence in court. Seems like Bulut got his fries after all.

Strengthening Bulut’s bid for induction into The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame is the four year ban he received from Turkish football after testing positive for cocaine while playing for Menemen Belediye in 2018.

Image: NuNa

Football’s greatest bromance.

Help us find football’s greatest bromance. Help us choose the teammates who broke each other’s bones as well as each other’s hearts before kissing and making up for the sake of the team?

The Fronwlow Medal takes a close look at some of the most passionate pairings in Australian professional football and takes a trip down memory lane to highlight some of the most romantic Frownlow nominations in history.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.

The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.

Football’s greatest bromances:

NRL

James Tedesco and Shannon Wakeman

Daly Cherry Evans and Jackson Hastings

Jamal Idris, Lee Te Maari and Ben Barba,

plus fellow Bulldogs Corey Allen and Jacob Kiraz

Brisbane Broncos:

Corey Oates and Justin Hodges

Payne Haas and Albert Kelly

Tom Flegler and Jordan Riki

Super Rugby

Matt Dunning and Des Tuiavi’i

Amanaki Mafi and Lopeti Timani

AFL

Steven May and Jake Melksham

No, Wayne Carey does not qualify for this particular award. He had a romance with his teammate’s wife, not his teammate.

West Coast Eagles:

Daniel Kerr and Ben Cousins

Daniel Connors and Ben Cousins

Daniel Chick and Andrew Embley (prompted by Ben Cousins)

Do you know of any football bromance, from Australia’s four major codes, which should be included in this list?

Image: Tyler Nix

Bailey Smith quits AFL.

Bailey Smith has shocked Australia with news that he will quit the AFL to deal with mental health issues following his latest off-field scandal.

Smith was recently punished for appearing in a social media post holding a bag of white powder, and he raised mental health battles when discussing the incident with the media. He has since quit the sport entirely to start a new career.

“I will step aside from the AFL immediately,” Smith announced through a prepared statement.

“I have made this difficult decision for reasons of mental health. My battles with mental health have been well documented, even after my latest off-field scandal and subsequent nomination for The Fronwlow Medal.”

His next career move was as big a shock as his decision to leave the sport.

“I will spend six months of the year as a school teacher and the next six months as a nurse, so that I can gain a more accurate understanding of mental health struggles,” the Western Bulldogs star explained.

“I will teach secondary students, most likely as a PD/H/PE teacher, for the remainder of this year. I chose teaching because I want to learn exactly what mental health struggles look like. I want to experience the constant drain of secondary school teaching in underfunded schools where teachers are overworked and underpaid and constantly under attack from parents and students. I want to understand the mental health strain on people who are vital to the nation but are completely undervalued and often criticised by Australian society, in contrast to footballers who are adored for simply playing a game they love.”

“On a personal note, I want to feel what it’s like to be ignored, teased, criticised or even physically attacked by teenagers, including some who’ll become professional footballers in a few years time. If you’d heard the stories the boys tell in the locker room about their school days, you’d know what I mean.”

Australians were just as shocked to learn that a person with no teaching experience or qualifications could simply walk into a full-time teaching position, but such is the shortage of teachers in Australia – created largely through the mental health strain placed on teachers.

After teaching for six months, Smith then plans to work as a nurse.

“I will work as a nurse for similar reasons,” he outlined.

“I want to truly understand the mental health strain of working an extremely stressful and underpaid job which was made a lot worse during the pandemic, and was bad enough before COVID-19.”

“I want to live through the emotional and psychological strain of caring for sick, injured, scared, smelly, dirty, abused, unstable, violent, dying people on a daily basis without proper remuneration or even adequate personal protection equipment.”

“I also want to be on the other side when a professional footballer abuses drugs or alcohol and has to be saved from themselves.”

Bailey then explained exactly why he had chosen these two careers above any other.

“Above all, I want to know what it’s like to be given gratitude instead of a reasonable wage.”

The nursing and teaching jobs will keep Smith out of the AFL until June 2023. Will the social media darling be back in the AFL, and back into contention for The Fronwlow Medal?

Only time will tell. Or maybe he will be back on the field once he reviews his bank balance.

Image: AAP, James Ross