A university AFL team were surprised when the Prime Minister joined them at a Sydney pub and downed a glass of beer in one gulp.
University of Technology Bats Football Club midfielder Harry Whiting said the team were at the Royal Oak Hotel in Double Bay for a presentation night when they spotted Tony Abbott in the same room attending a separate celebration.
The university student, 25, said after mingling with the PM, players coaxed him to down a beer which was a club tradition for those voted ‘best on ground’.
He said Mr Abbott declined at first, however finally gave in to the pressure.
The PM grabbed the microphone, saying “coming from a rugby background, it’s nice to have a beer with real footballers”.
Mr Abbott, who was already holding a beer, began his prolonged sip, with a crowd of about 40 students crying “skol, skol, skol” as the booze disappeared from the glass in about six seconds.
He then raised the empty vessel to the top of his head to signify he had finished the ale, Mr Whiting said.
Some of the UTS Bats Football Club teammates were fast to pull out their smartphones and filmed the PM chugging the beer.
“Everyone was cheering and clapping, I don’t know if he regretted it or not,” Mr Whiting said.
Club coach Simon Carrodus said “he drank from head-to-toe the entire schooner, dribbling little bits on his shirt … he was proud as punch”.
The crowd then erupted in chants of “Tony, Tony, Tony”.
Teammates posted photos of the moment on their social media page, captioning one: “Tones at the Bat Cave”.
In another comment, the club wrote; “Great to have Prime Minister Tony Abbott in attendance for presentations tonight at the Bat Cave – he almost has Hawkey covered,” referring to former PM Bob Hawke, who downed a beer during a Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground last year.
Mr Whiting said he respected Mr Abbott for his rowdy actions.
“I wasn’t a huge Tony Abbott fan, but he did the right thing by getting around everyone and having a bit of a chat, so I respect him for that,” he said.
It was a change of pace for the PM, who last year wrote an opinion piece for The Courier Mail in which he tried to discourage binge drinking.
“The (problem is) the binge drinking culture which has become all too prevalent among youngsters,” he wrote.
“Alcohol has and always will be part of life in our country – and most countries in the world. Our challenge as a people is to ensure that we get the balance right again.”
It’s not the first time Mr Abbott’s drinking has gained public attention.
He was mercilessly ridiculed in 2010 when he ordered a “shandy lite” during his election campaign, while his then opponent, Julia Gillard, ordered a full-strength ale.
Commenting on the video, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said: “I’m just pleased that Tony Abbott’s learning to drink beer without adding lemonade to it.”