Jack De Belin Stood Down In NRL Crackdown On Charged Players
The Australian Rugby League Commission has ruled that any NRL player who is accused of a serious crime will be stood down from playing until the courts have delivered a judgment.
Players will remain on full pay while stood down.
"What we’ve unanimously agreed to do is that there will be a no-fault stand- down for players charged with serious criminal offenses," NRL Chair Peter Beattie said
"There will be no judgement whatsoever on any player charged with a serious offense.
"We know that just because you’re charged, doesn’t mean you’ll be found guilty. And if players are found innocent, they will return to the game with the blessing of the NRL.
"This is a no-fault stand-down" Beattie repeated. "We make no judgement about innocence or guilt.
"This is in a nutshell about rebuilding the image of rugby league. This is about the welfare of rugby league.
Under the new policy, players charged with a crime that could result in 11 or more years in jail will be stood down automatically. If the potential jail sentence is 10 years or less, they can still be stood down at the discretion of NRL.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg indicated he would deal with these on a case-by-case basis.
This has been the hottest topic in rugby league in recent weeks.
There was strong opposition to standing down players, especially from the Rugby League Players' Association, who argued that the principle of innocent until proven guilty" -- which underpins our legal system -- should be the guiding principle.
Meanwhile St George Illawarra, the club home to Jack de Belin who was charged with aggravated sexual assault earlier this month, yesterday told the ARL Commission that it would pursue legal action if de Belin was stood down.
But the Commission has been swayed by the other side of the argument.
Beattie had already made it clear that this summer of awful headlines, with numerous assault charges involving players, had driven fans and sponsors away from the game.
Million dollar sponsorship deals were reportedly cancelled over summer. The game's stakeholders demanded a new policy.
Beattie flagged the policy change overnight, telling Sky News "There will be some players who will be charged and they will be found innocent and they will be welcomed back to the game.
"But the reality for the governing body is we have to set standards. We have to set principles, we have to send a clear message about what behaviour is acceptable and what’s not."
Those thoughts were echoed today.
"We are paid to protect the image of the sport," NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.
READ MORE: Full Pay, No Play: The NRL's Controversial Fix For Players Facing Criminal Charges
"None of this is easy and we understand that there will be cases where this will be hard and it will be difficult on individuals," Beattie said.
"Our responsibility, though, is the welfare of rugby league and to have a game which is supported by the community."
And in other NRL news...