Former NRL player Ben Rogers assaulted two men in Newcastle in 2013 but claimed it was all in the name of charity. Rogers received a nomination for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame because of the incident which he claims was taken out of context.
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 AFL player Elijah Taylor 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.
“I did it for charity,” Rogers argued, after being found guilty of two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm during a fight at a taxi rank involving two men and a woman.
“The guys I got into a fight with refused to donate more money to the charity, so I threatened to smash their faces in. Also, they took my taxi,” Rogers explained.
The incident occurred outside Wests Leagues in Lambton while Rogers was playing for the Newcastle Knights, and erupted at the conclusion of the Down Town Ball, a charity function in support of Down Syndrome NSW for which Rogers was the Hunter Region ambassador. Two men suffered facial injuries, and one required stitches in hospital.
The victims of the assault reportedly donated a small amount of money to the charity, but that wasn’t enough for Rogers, who took his ambassadorial role very seriously. Rogers was found guilty and received a twelve-month good behaviour bond and a thousand-dollar fine, as well as being stood down by the Knights.
Starting a fight at a charity event is bizarre, but professional footballers are capable of anything. Is Rogers capable of earning a place in The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame?