A WITNESS has come forward to reveal that more than four Western Force Super 14 players, some of them dressed only in underpants
scores of quokkas for more than an hour after a heavy drinking session at a Rottnest Island bar on Friday night.
Sydney resident Dan Andrews, who was visiting the island off Perth last weekend, said the quokkas were traumatised
and he feared at least one may have been seriously hurt
with injuries to its back. Rottnest Island rangers have been looking for evidence of mistreatment of the native marsupials to charge the players with the maximum fine of $10,000. So far, they have found no evidence. Western Australia police media said inquiries into the matter were continuing.
Andrews has described a scene of mayhem
about 10pm last Friday night to the rangers. He has tried to give the same information to the Western Force, but officials have told him they will not reconvene a disciplinary committee unless more information is forthcoming from the ranger.
Andrews said there were disturbing incidents
, including one Western Force Super 14 player enacting a series of outstretched, diving tries holding a milk crate, with the touchdown gleefully noted whenever the player caught a hapless quokka in the crate.
"Sometimes the quokka's tail wasn't captured within the milk crate, and then when the player was sick of that he started hurling the milk crate," Andrews said. "It was horrible
to see them pick on little animals
. Some of them were just babies
and they only weigh three to five kilograms."
He said another player picked up a quokka by the tail, rotating it several times above his head and then releasing it, hammer-throw style across the grass.
The Force said on Monday an internal inquiry had found there had been no mistreatment, although four players had admitted to picking up and putting down the quokkas. Andrews said he and some Irish tourists, who also witnessed the scene, had begged the players to stop
the harassment and had repeatedly told them it was illegal to touch the quokkas. The players also helped themselves to the tourists' beer and a bicycle without permission.
"We told them to stop handling the quokkas. We told them how it was an offence under state law but they ignored us," he said. "At one point, we were pleading with them that the quokkas were revered almost like a state animal, certainly a Perth icon, and as a team from Perth, they should respect that. They didn't listen and it just got to the point that we went inside so as not to give them an audience, and we just hoped that they stopped."
The animal cruelty allegation is the latest in a series of off-field incidents
involving Western Force players, including allegations that two players assaulted
a former Force employee in a Sydney bar earlier this year. The assault allegation followed separate confirmation by the club of a report that it paid $16,000 to a South African man to enable star player Matt Henjak to play Super 14 matches in South Africa.
The Herald last Saturday revealed the Force had made payments to the man and his legal firm. The Rugby Union Players Association chief executive Tony Dempsey was also paid for acting in communications with the man's lawyers. A civil claim and assault charges from an alleged 2004 nightclub incident were later dropped against Henjak.
The ARU has given the Force until the middle of next month to show where the payment was disclosed in its audit of accounts - part of part of the conditions imposed on the club following an earlier Herald investigation which showed previous secret payments
of $300,000 to lure players to the club, for which the Force were fined $150,000. The ARU has foreshadowed more fines if it is not satisfied with the audit.
This is a farken outrage! Is there no end to the anti-social behaviour of the Western Farce. Now it’s animal cruelty. Last week it was bribery. Before that salary cap rorting and numerous accounts of assaulting members of the public. Why don’t they recruit Michael Vick? He’d fit right in!
And y’know, there’s something about the WA ‘culture’ (for wont of a better word) that accepts this cowboy behaviour. It runs a lot deeper than the Farce and the West Coke Eagles because sport culture is just a more obvious outward manifestation of wider culture.
Crap like this is all over WA. Just look at Bryan Burke. We’ve all heard the rumours of widespread corruption within the mining industray. And go back further to WA Inc and Bondy’s corporate corruption. As long as the state’s in a mining boom they’ll tolerate all sorts of illegal behavour in public life. It’s just like the 80s all over again.
It just doesn’t happen over here in the civilised East Coast. We have dignity, self-respect and above all else, respect for others.