Cooper gets stiff fine for criticizing Wallabies set-up

Reuters, SYDNEY

Thu, Nov 01, 2012 - Page 19

Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper was fined A$40,000 ($41,566) by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) yesterday for bringing the game into disrepute after criticizing the national team set-up.

The 24-year-old, currently sidelined by a knee injury, was also handed a further A$20,000 fine and a three-match ban suspended for two years by a disciplinary tribunal in Sydney.

Cooper said in a TV interview last month he would not play for Australia unless changes were made to the “toxic environment” surrounding the team, which he felt was “destroying” him.

Cooper then used the TV interview to attack the defensive tactics of coach Robbie Deans and criticize the lack of a dedicated training facility for the Wallabies.

A quarter of the fine handed down yesterday was for criticizing an ARU-licensed computer game on Twitter.

“I had a fair hearing and I am very happy with the outcome,” he told reporters at ARU headquarters. “I understand I have fallen way below par for what it means to be a Wallaby and just want to apologize to the supporters. I am looking forward to the future and to hopefully a big year for not only my state, but for the Wallabies.”

The New Zealand-born playmaker’s contract with the ARU expires at the end of the year and he has not signed a new deal.

Cooper was fined A$10,000 by the ARU in 2009 for bringing the game into disrepute after breaking the window of a taxi.