Jarryd Hayne wins The Frownlow Medal in 2021.

Former NRL player Jarryd Hayne has won The Frownlow Medal in 2021 after being sent to prison for sexually assaulting a woman on NRL Grand Final night in 2018. Hayne saw off the challenge of more than 70 professional footballers to win this year’s medal and is the sixth NRL player to receive the honour.

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 was the 2020 recipient.

The former NSW and Australia star was found guilty of raping the woman at her home on the NSW Central Coast, and apparently asked a taxi driver to wait for him while he committed the crime. He was eventually sentenced this year after a lengthy legal process.

Unfortunately for Hayne, he was not able to attend the awards night for The Frownlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame, and he had to accept a replica of the award in the TV room at Cooma Correctional Centre. The replica was made by a fellow inmate out of Play-doh and had to be returned to guards immediately. He will receive the real medal once he is released.

Hayne saw off the challenges of two other NRL players who were accused of the same crime. Rookie Tristan Sailor is yet to have his day in court, and fellow Dragons player Jack de Belin was eventually found not guilty of an incident which occurred in Wollongong. De Belin was also nominated this year for breaching COVID-19 rules to attend Paul Vaughan‘s infamous house party, which earned nominations for 10 other players and created the Matt Dufty Fun Run.

Herstory is made

Nita Maynard became the first woman to be nominated for The Frownlow Medal since the award’s inception in 2015. The NRLW player got into a scuffle with bouncers at Northies after a few too many drinks, and paved the way for Millie Boyle and Deni Varnhagen. Boyle was caught in a toilet tryst with fellow rugby league player and multiple nominee Adam Elliott, while Varnhagen was delisted by the Adelaide Crows AFL club for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.

Frownlow favourites

Jordan de Goey of Collingwood returned for more Frownlow fun, this time earning three nominations in the same year. He edged out 2016 medallist Corey Norman with two nominations, one of which was for a street fight outside Northies alongside his buddy James Segeyaro. Josh Dugan also earned two nominations, and said goodbye to the NRL after doing very little for the Cronulla Sharks all season.

An ugly trend

Yet again footballers were nominated for alleged violence against women. NRL players Tui Kamikamica, Jamil Hopoate and Anthony Milford were all accused of alleged incidents of violence against women, and are set to face court in 2022.

The bizarre

Footballers always provide so much off-field entertainment, and 2021 was no different. NRL player Lachlan Lewis was nominated for stealing club-owned speakers from his COVID-19 hub and trying to sell them online, while Roosters enforcer Victor Radley was fined for tackling someone – no joke. Tom Starling of the Raiders, meanwhile, earned his second nomination in two years, for exactly the same offence, at exactly the same bar, at exactly the same time of year.

Three clubs were nominated this year. Collingwood FC AFL club for services to racism, and NRL clubs Canterbury Bulldogs for COVID-19 breaches, as well as the Penrith Panthers, who destroyed the Summons – Provan trophy while celebrating their Grand Final victory.

NRL players clearly dominated again in 2021. Not one A-League footballer was nominated, only four Super Rugby players were eligible, and the only other significant incident involving an AFL player was Taylor Walker‘s racism and his cringeworthy apology video.

Footballers then partied the night away after the award announcement, while poor Jarryd was sent back to his cell.

Image: Dan Pelad

Fondlers, Teachers, Rapists (?) and Breachers battle for The Frownlow Medal.

The Frownow Medal has become a battle between the Breachers, the Teachers, the Fondlers and three alleged rapists in 2020, and the winner will be announced in a matter of weeks. While the nominees prepare for the awards night for The Frownlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame, we take a look at the favourites for the most prestigious award in Australian sport.

Elijah Taylor is favourite at the time of writing. The AFL player pleaded guilty to physically assaulting his partner and has already been awarded a Wife Beater tattoo, as well as being fined and dropped by the Sydney Swans.

Taylor is not in prison, but NRL players Jarryd Hayne, Jack de Belin and Tristan Sailor could be. Hayne is currently in court for alleged sexual assault of a woman, and will be hard to beat if he is found guilty. Sailor and de Belin face similar charges but may not complete their court cases in 2020, so may have to hope for Frownlow glory in 2021.

Manase Fainu is also waiting for the courts to decide his fate. The rookie NRL player is still up on charges of stabbing someone – at a church dance.

The (alleged) rapists also have to contend with the Teachers and the Breachers.

NRL players Jayden Okunbor and Corey Harawira-Naera are the Teachers. They offered private study sessions to teenage girls they met on an official Canterbury Bulldogs school visit, and were sacked by the NRL. They were later welcomed back into the NRL, as the girls were of legal age, and because the girls drastically improved their grades.

A total of 31 players breached strict COVID-19 protocols this year, and earned Frownlow nominations as a result. The most famous was Nathan Cleary, whose performance on TikTok impressed fans more than his performance for the Panthers in the Grand Final. Lachie Hunter’s breach included alcohol abuse, fleeing the scene, drink driving and smashing into parked cars, including one that belonged to his girlfriend’s parents – awkward.

Footy Fondlers

AFL players clearly have a fascination with other players’ private parts. Cameras caught Nick Vlastuin, Jack Riewoldt, Jayden Short, Dan Butler, Jayden Hunt and Christian Petracca practising their handballs with their teammates.

Dual nominee

Tyson Stengle earned two nominations in one year. The first for drink driving in an unregistered car while disqualified from driving, and the second for possession of illicit drugs.

Yet again, AFL and NRL players dominate the nominations for The Frownlow Medal. Rugby Union and Football players did not earn a single nomination, while the NRL earned 31 and the AFL 23. Will Taylor become the first player to win the award outright for the AFL?

Image: NuNa

Tristan Sailor is the fourth footballer under investigation for sexual assault.

NRL rookie Tristan Sailor has been nominated for The Frownlow Medal after becoming the fourth professional footballer to be the subject of a current police investigation for sexual assault of a woman. Sailor joins fellow rugby league players Jarryd Hayne and Jack de Belin plus AFL player Jordan de Goey with ongoing legal proceedings relating to sexual assault.

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 player Ben Barba is the most recent recipient.

During the time Sailor spent with the woman at the Beach Road Hotel in Bondi and at her home, he is accused of giving the alleged victim a sedative. He then allegedly assaulted the woman before discarding her in a state that was described as ‘extremely vulnerable’. The woman was reportedly found unconscious by her friend.

Sailor has not spoken to the press, but a number of former NRL players have provided affidavits to police in support of the rising star, including his former coach Paul McGregor and rugby league immortal Darren Lockyer, both of whom have been nominated for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame for offences related to alcohol abuse. The same Darren Lockyer who earned one of his Frownlow nominations for joking about the Canterbury Bulldogs gang rape scandal in 2004.

Sailor is also not the first footballer to be nominated for Frownlow honours alongside his father. Sailor’s father Wendell was nominated for cocaine use in 2006 and for a pub fight in South Africa. Aussie Rules duos Roger and Daniel, and Jim and Andrew Krakouer also attracted the attention of Frownlow judges for off-field controversies.

The talented half was recently left without a club for 2021 after the St George-Illawarra Dragons decided not to renew his contract, and the outcome of his court case may determine whether he plays professional football ever gain.

Image: NuNa