The National Rugby League (NRL) has issued Breach Notices to 13 St George Illawarra Dragons players alleging they failed to comply with the game’s biosecurity protocols and withheld key information from the NRL Integrity Unit.
The NRL alleges that player Paul Vaughan invited players to a gathering at his home on Saturday 3 July which was attended by 12 teammates, in breach of NSW Public Health Orders and the Game’s biosecurity protocols. It’s alleged a number of players hid or fled the residence when NSW Police attended the home after complaints from neighbours.
It’s also alleged that a number of players gave or were involved in giving misleading information about the event during the NRL’s investigation into the breaches and that some of the players conspired to withhold key information from the NRL. The notices allege that all players involved knowingly breached the game’s biosecurity rules by attending the premeditated gathering. They were made aware of the game’s Biosecurity Protocols by the club and admit they knew they were breaching the game’s rules.
The Breach Notice issued to Vaughan, who has previously been sanctioned by the NRL for breaches of the biosecurity rules in 2020 and who organised and hosted the gathering, proposes an 8 match suspension and a fine of $50,000.
This takes into account Vaughan withholding key information from the Integrity Unit. The proposed sanctions for all other players who attended the gathering include one match suspensions and fines.
Total fines for all players amount to $305,000. Players serving one-match suspensions will be split across a minimum of 2 Rounds and a maximum of 4 Rounds to ensure the Dragons have enough players available to field a squad each week.
The fines take into account past indiscretions and the varying salaries of the players.
Blake Lawry – $20,000
Corey Norman – $50,000
Daniel Alvaro – $15,000
Jack Bird – $25,000
Josh Kerr – $18,000
Josh McGuire – $12,000
Kaide Ellis – $5,000
Matt Dufty – $23,000
Paul Vaughan – $50,000
Tyrell Fuimaono – $12,000
Zac Lomax – $31,000
Jack de Belin – $42,000
Gerard Beale – $2,000
NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said the game alleges the players deliberately put at risk the continuity of the competition.
“In our view the actions of the players were deliberate and some of the players withheld key information from the Integrity Unit,” he said.
“On the information we have, the players understood the protocols and deliberately chose to ignore them, they chose to risk the continuity of our competition. The sanctions handed down today puts every player in the game on notice, particularly repeat offenders – this sort of conduct will not be tolerated.
“There are many people working incredibly hard to keep the competition going – it’s a privilege to play football, not a right. We’ve made promises to the community and to state governments and we will do everything we can to honour those promises. I want to stress that there are almost 900 players and officials following strict biosecurity measures and the overwhelming number are doing the right thing, as they did last year.
“We will continue to work with all clubs and state governments to ensure compliance, the health and safety of the community, our players and officials the continuity of the competition.”
The players have 5 working days to respond to the Breach Notices.