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NRL Sex Scandal - Should Matthew Johns Have Been Sacked

The Mad Chatter - Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Matthew Johns during happier times at Channel 9After some of the poor behaviour of NRL players was very publicly displayed on ABC’s Four Corners programme on Monday night it makes me mad that these carefree blokes just don’t seem to get the message.

2009 is shaping to be the worst for scandals and unsavoury incidents for rugby league.

First of all I will preface this article by saying that any bloke involved in non-consentual sex should be prosecuted criminally. The issue of group sex when consent is given or the participants are not told to stop is more of grey area.

Matthew Johns has been stood down from Channel 9 and NRL club Melbourne Storm have also severed ties with the former Australian star. In tonight’s edition of A Current Affair Matthew Johns fronted the cameras with his wife and said that the woman from New Zealand was a willing participant.

“That’s totally untrue,” Johns told ACA of the woman’s claim she did not intend to have sex with more than two Sharks players. “I would say that on the night when she came back to the room she was a willing participant in everything that went on.”

With the amount of bad publicity Johns has received after the incident became public it was inevitable that Channel 9 would get rid off him. The question being asked on talk back radio and in blogs all over the Internet is whether Johns should be sacked for an incident that happened seven years ago, that didn’t result in criminal charges and a problem that was dealt with internally by his family.

In my opinion it does not matter whether criminal charges were laid or not. The fact the girl involved in the group sex has suffered so traumatically since the event proves that the act itself was not appropriate. If any of the Cronulla Sharks players involved in the act had an ounce of class they would not have done this in the first place.

Channel 9 invested huge amounts of money to boost Matthew Johns’ profile and it paid massive dividends. Popular identities such as Reg Reagan became house hold names. Regardless of your position on this matter, Channel 9 had to stand him down from commitments simply for the amount of bad publicity.

The public apology from Johns is a step in the right direction. It also admirable that Johns told his wife and they have worked through the issues.

I wonder whether the other Cronulla players allegedly involved in that act in New Zealand will come forward an apologise too. They were happy to join Johns in the motel room. Will they join him now?

The NRL must now enact a zero tolerance stance on incidents involving women and alcohol from players and personalities in rugby league. After all, rugby league is a product and if there nothing but ongoing drunken and sexual scandals damaging the image, then what’s the point?

The game itself is bigger than any player, commentator or personality. The NRL must ban these fools that are ruining the greatest game of all.

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