Kangaroos question CRRL over Hunt suspension

Queanbeyan Kangaroos reserves captain/coach Peter Hunt. Photo: Andrew Johnston

Queanbeyan Kangaroos reserves captain/coach Peter Hunt. Photo: Andrew Johnston

THE Queanbeyan Kangaroos have questioned the Canberra Region Rugby League's consistency after it stood down reserve grade coach and captain Peter Hunt over a team song incident last Sunday.

The Kangaroos reserves played the Gungahlin Bulls at Goulburn Workers Arena in their minor semi-final clash, in which the Kangaroos won 16-10, with the match being played their due to the first grade Goulburn Bulldogs taking on the West Belconnen Warriors at home.

It is reported Hunt instigated a team song, which included offensive language, outside the grandstand, as they were not able to get into the dressing rooms straight away and could not wait to sing their song.

The Goulburn and West Belconnen teams reportedly entered the dressing rooms early, preventing the reserve grade teams from using them immediately after their match.

An official complaint was submitted to the CRRL, and its disciplinary committee fined the Kangaroos club $1,000 and suspended Hunt for the rest of the season on Wednesday night as a result of the incident.

But Kangaroos president Leigh Kiely has since appealed the punishment to the Country Rugby League, arguing that fans were behaving inappropriately throughout the entire game, and said his club should not have been held solely responsible.

"We don't condone at all the song being sung, we feel embarrassed, and it should never have been sung out in the open," said Kiely.

"The person who made the official complaint [against Hunt] admitted in the hearing there was offensive language coming from West Belconnen supporters and Goulburn supporters."

"There were CRRL officials that heard the swearing too, and they did nothing about it.

"We were basically held solely responsible at the disciplinary hearing."

CRRL executive officer Karen Ebsworth said the League only received official complaints about the Kangaroos team song, and said under the National Rugby League Code of Conduct, it was forced to hand down the punishments it did.

"The reports we received [from the disciplinary committee] said that Peter Hunt instigated the singing of the song, and that's why they have suspended him," she said.

"Team victory songs are strictly not supposed to contain offensive language, so it's not an acceptable behaviour, and the fact it was sung in front of a large number of people at the ground is the issue."

Ebsworth added the Kangaroos had taken their own stance on Hunt, but its disciplinary committee had to assess the severity of the incident, and take action.

Kiely said the CRRL had shown inconsistency to his club though, comparing the situation to an event on August 10 where a West Belconnen player allegedly pushed a referee, an action normally worth a serious punishment, and the club was fined just $250.

Hunt has been at the Kangaroos for around 24 years, and will miss the chance to contest back-to-back titles.

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