Wallabies are not sexists, says Nick Phipps

Wallaby scrum-half Nick Phipps has insisted the Australia rugby union squad are not a bunch of sexists following the fall-out caused by Kurtley Beale`s offensive text message to a female team official.

AFP| Last Updated: Oct 28, 2014, 21:08 PM IST
Wallabies are not sexists, says Nick Phipps

London: Wallaby scrum-half Nick Phipps has insisted the Australia rugby union squad are not a bunch of sexists following the fall-out caused by Kurtley Beale`s offensive text message to a female team official.

Last week a disciplinary tribunal found Beale guilty of sending an offensive picture message to Wallaby team business manager Di Patston, who resigned as a result of the fall-out from the incident, and fined him $Aus45,000 ($38,500).

However, Beale was not suspended, meaning he was eligible to play, although new Australia coach Michael Cheika did not include him in the squad for the five-match tour of Europe which starts with the non-cap international against the Barbarians at London`s Twickenham ground on Saturday.

The tribunal could not establish whether a second more offensive text message and photograph had been sent by Beale.

The furore over the texts saw both Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie and Patston resign.

Patston quit her post a fortnight ago and, speaking publicly for the first time since her departure, told Monday`s edition of The Australian she had been driven to the brink of suicide by the "degrading" texts and the ensuing repercussions.

The whole issue has again raised the question of whether top-level men`s sport is inherently misogynistic but Phipps, speaking in London on Monday, insisted this was not a charge that could be levelled against the Wallabies."I have noticed a lot of people giving their views on harassment in the workplace," said Phipps.

"My mum and sister would kick me in the rear end if they ever thought I was involved.

"It doesn`t reflect at all on the playing group. We`re fully supportive of women in sport and we always will be."

He added: "If women are good enough to do the job I`d love them to be there. I find it funny that gender is always brought into it.

"I`ve worked with plenty of senior females in roles in my career, especially down in Melbourne. It really isn`t an issue for me."

New South Wales Waratahs playmaker Beale`s 47-Test career has been dogged by a succession of off-field problems and last year the 25-year-old was forced to undergo counselling and rehabilitation for his struggles with alcohol.

Beale`s contract with the Australian Rugby Union expires at the end of the year and there have been suggestions his latest fall from grace could see the talented back quit rugby union completely as a result of this scandal.

However, Phipps said it was not too late for Beale to revive his Wallaby career ahead of next year`s World Cup in England.

"We`re all about second chances aren`t we? He`d be the first to say he made a mistake. That`s well documented," Phipps said.

"What he did wasn`t right in any way. At the end of the day, who doesn`t deserve a chance? It will be great to have him back in the fold.

"I know there are a lot of fans out there who probably aren`t happy at the moment, but time heals.

"Kurtley will always love playing for Australia, especially because he gets on with all the players.

"He has that smiley, cheerful, happy attitude. You just need to see a picture of his smile to know he loves playing for the green and gold."