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NRL announces investigation into gay slur at under-20 State of Origin match

Heated moment: Tempers flare during the under 20s State of Origin match on Saturday night.

Heated moment: Tempers flare during the under 20s State of Origin match on Saturday night. Photo: Getty Images

A NSW under 20s player who called Queensland lock Luke Bateman a ‘‘f---ing gay c---’’ will be investigated by the NRL match review committee.

The referee’s microphone picked up the homophobic slur from an unknown Blues player and it was broadcast to a television audience on Saturday night during the representative game at Penrith's Sportingbet Stadium.

The match, won by NSW 30-8, was a spiteful affair with a scuffle breaking out between the teams in the 23rd minute and NSW prop Matthew Lodge was sent to the sin bin for his involvement in the fight.  On the next play, Maroons winger John Folau was also sent off for 10 minutes for fighting.

Canberra Raiders forward Luke Bateman was sledged by a NSW opponent while representing Queensland under 20s at Penrith on Saturday night.

Canberra Raiders forward Luke Bateman was sledged by a NSW opponent while representing Queensland under 20s at Penrith on Saturday night. Photo: Jonathan Ng

The gay slur incident occurred less than a month after the NRL, along with the Australian Rugby Union, Football Federation Australia, the AFL and Cricket Australia, held a joint press conference to announce they were committed to ensuring homophobic slurs were not part of their sports. The codes agreed to introduce policies consistent with the newly created Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework by the end of August.

NRL CEO Dave Smith said the match review committee would be asked to review the television coverage of the game to determine if anyone should be cited. Anyone found guilty of the offence could be fined and suspended.

“There is no place for any form of discrimination in our game,” Smith said. “Rugby League is a game for everyone and we will not tolerate slurs based on gender, race, sexuality or any other matter. The NRL is determined to stamp out discrimination in our game.

“This matter will be investigated fully and, if any player has vilified an opponent, appropriate action will be taken.”

Meanwhile, Lodge is likely to get a rap over the knuckles from the NSWRL as he had the word ‘‘c--t’’ written on his wrist strapping, which was removed by officials during the game.

99 comments so far

  • Great to hear the NRL getting on top of this kind of problem. A racial or homophobic slur in the heat of the moment between blokes on the paddock might seem pretty innocuous, but it's a pointer to a much deeper and darker undercurrent.

    Whether they like it or not, football players at representative levels like this are role models and public figures, and they need to act like it. Gay people play and watch these games, and have just as much right as anybody else to be treated with respect and decency.

    Keep up the good work, NRL. Let's make the game inclusive and respectful of all Australians.

    Andrew Y
    Date and time
    May 04, 2014, 3:53PM
    • Mate they're under 20 players...they're still kids themselves so I agree with most of what your saying but these young blokes shouldn't be strung up as role models at all.....If they were the older NRL player then yeah fair enough.
      These under 20 state of origins end up spiteful events year after year with ugly brawls....that in itself tells me these have a lot of growing up to do.

      Date and time
      May 04, 2014, 4:35PM
    • I think too many people are getting too politically correct and losing a sense of humour. Can't some people just laugh it off?
      I was last night called a needle d@cked old queen" by a guy in my local pub, despite being a hetro male with more than half a ruler. Just laughed it off, rather than call the cops or pub bouncers. Can't others?
      There truly is a difference between real offence and casual sledging and we should accept it without preciousness

      Date and time
      May 04, 2014, 5:26PM
    • @David
      You were called that once? Gee, you've had a tough life haven't you?

      If you were called a "needle d@cked old queen" everywhere you went for the rest of your life, I think you would eventually fail to see the humour in it too.

      Date and time
      May 04, 2014, 6:02PM
    • David - you do not understand the point as you have no reference to the slur. Yes your were called that but you're not an old queen. Perhaps if the slur was along the line of "you're a loser male who isn't the father of your children (assuming you have some)" then perhaps you might understand the slur. Do you get it now?

      Plus, using "gay" as a derogatory term is not on. Not now, not then, not ever.

      Date and time
      May 04, 2014, 6:05PM
    • @ buz

      Not you, I or the NRL get to decide who's "strung up" as role models. These guys represent their states and are televised on TV. Ten year old kids are sitting at home idolising them, wanting to be them. They're role models whether they like it or not. If they don't want that pressure, go play for a local club on weekends. Whether 17 or 27, when you play in the big league you accept the responsibility that it entails.

      I know kids make mistakes, of course they do. But kids also need to be disciplined when they do. That's what the NRL are doing, which is spot on, IMO.

      @ David

      Spoken like a white guy who says "But nobody's racist anymore, can't you just laugh it off?" Sorry mate, unless you've walked in the shoes of some poor kid who's lived in fear of rejection from his family, his mates, his chosen sport, his boss, because of the way he was born, you have no ability to define what he or she might be insulted, bullied or offended by.

      People in the public eye need to define and represent the best of us, not the average, and certainly not the worst of us.

      Andrew Y
      Date and time
      May 04, 2014, 6:10PM
    • people
      nothing suggests that the player addressed is called any of these words repeatedly etc, s your points are irrelevant.
      and if calling me a "white privileged" male" for saying this isn't racist? how are you sure I'm white? I'm actually of asian heritage.
      kangavik - so the player is gay? didn't we just establish via wendy harmer's and clem barstow's articles that "c@nt" should not be considered offensive or shocking anymore?

      Date and time
      May 04, 2014, 6:57PM
    • david, the reason is that calling you white is an insult even if it's not true. And such people can't see their outrageous hypocrisy. I apologise that you were racially abused by random commenters who act like they are exhibit A when it comes to virtue.

      Date and time
      May 04, 2014, 8:16PM
    • @Buz
      Excusing this kind of behaviour because they're "just kids" doesn't help the issue at all. They're old enough to know better and should be reprimanded accordingly.

      Way to completely miss the point and use a completely irrelevant example of how one insult thrown at you is somehow the same as overwhelming and systematic denigration of a group as people as inferior? The day when the phrase 'straight' becomes a common putdown then maybe you might develop a bit of empathy. If a player had said "you're a f*ucking [insert asian slur here]" that we should all just laugh it off? If you don't understand why this is a problem then I fear for your intelligence and empathy... or lack thereof.

      Date and time
      May 04, 2014, 8:30PM
    • To anyone who thinks it's acceptable to use those words just because it's an indirect comment towards a situation and thinks it is ok has a serious issue. 20 years of age is considered an adult and should understand what is appropriate or not. There are many gay people who watch the games and even go to it. This is disgusting and should be fully investigated. It is discriminating and I am glad they are doing a full investigation into it. This is the 21st century and there is no room for words like that in todays language.. not here and not around the world. Everyone is entitled to enjoy their sexuality, it is their life not yours. Anyway who disagrees should go mind your own business on this matter.

      The Other Guy1
      Date and time
      May 04, 2014, 9:06PM

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