Six Wallabies, including starting wingers Adam Ashley-Cooper and Nick Cummins, have sensationally copped one-match suspensions for staying out late and drinking in the build-up to last weekend’s win over Ireland.
The bans compromise team selections for Sunday morning’s (AEDT) Test against Scotland at Murrayfield but coach Ewen McKenzie has taken a hard-line stance at improving team culture and behavioural standards.
Groups of players went out drinking into the early hours of Wednesday morning after having dinner in Dublin on Tuesday night, in a breach of team protocols.
McKenzie reviewed each individual circumstance and punishments varied depending on how late they stayed, how much alcohol players consumed and whether they were in the match-day 23.
Ashley-Cooper and Cummins, as well as forward reserves Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Liam Gill, have been stood down from this weekend’s Test against Scotland at Murrayfield.
Second-string prop Paddy Ryan also received a one-match ban but will serve the suspension in the final match on tour, against Wales next week in Cardiff, so Australia can supply a proper bench at Murrayfield.
Nine more squad members received disciplinary warnings for breaking sanctions.
Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Saia Fainga’a, Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps all received written warnings while starting flanker Scott Fardy, Mike Harris, Ben McCalman and reserve scrum half Nic White were given verbal warnings.
Ironically several of those players will now get their chance to play Scotland due to the more severe punishments meted out to the five banned for the clash.
McKenzie stressed the punishments were to reinforce high cultural standards and not in response to any police investigations or public complaints.
The Wallabies have no curfew or drinking ban but the new coach said his players were well aware they needed to comply with high standards, on and off the field, to ensure top performance.
“Those standards were compromised in the lead-up to Saturday’s victory over Ireland with a group of players making the decision to stay out late and consume inappropriate levels of alcohol,” McKenzie said.
The punishments come as McKenzie looks to bring change to the team culture following growing unrest at the lack of action taken against James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale before and during the series loss to the British and Irish Lions.