Sam Burgess Steps down from Club duties during investigation
2nd October 2020
The allegations in newspaper against Sam Burgess and Dr Andrew McCullen for events in November 2018 are very concerning and the Club is treating them with the utmost seriousness. The Club is supportive of Sam Burgess’s decision to step down from his role at the Club while the NRL Integrity Unit investigation is underway. The Rabbitohs welcome the NRL Integrity Unit’s investigation in relation to a number of allegations and will fully cooperate with the investigation. The Club takes issues of drug use very seriously and has well-established policies and procedures in place around the use of performance enhancing or illicit/recreational/prescription drugs. The Club will continue to work closely with ASADA and the NRL which administer testing of the players. The Club will also continue to work with the playing group to support their wellbeing and educate them about drug use. There is no place in our society for violence, harassment or abuse against women. If anyone is found guilty of allegations of this nature, the Club will take the strongest possible action.
NRL fines Sam Burgess $30,000 and South Sydney $20,000
4th March 2022
The National Rugby League (NRL) today (15 months later) fined South Sydney Rabbitohs official Sam Burgess $30,000 and suspended him for 12 weeks(3 months) as an official for multiple breaches of NRL Rules during his time as a player and official with the Club. Today’s action follows an extensive investigation by the NRL into allegations that Burgess and the Rabbitohs had breached the Game’s Code of Conduct. Burgess breached the NRL’s rules by taking illicit drugs in 2018, threatening another rugby league player in 2018 and breaching NSW law in February 2021 by driving a motor vehicle with traces of an illicit drug in his system. The NRL’s investigation follows the conclusion of NSW Police Strike Force Irrabella in late 2021. Like Strike Force Irrabella, the NRL did not find the available evidence was sufficient to support allegations that Burgess had engaged in domestic violence. A number of allegations concerning Burgess’ personal relationships did not relate to the NRL’s rules. Burgess, who stood himself down from Club duties in October 2020, will be permitted to count his stand down as time served and will therefore be entitled to resume his duties, should he so desire.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have been fined $20,000 for failing to promptly advise the NRL Integrity Unit of an allegation made against Burgess. The NRL has also concluded that the available evidence did not support a finding that there was a cover-up by the Club of the use by Burgess of illicit drugs, prescription drugs or that it engaged in a practice of covering up allegations of domestic violence. In particular, the investigation found that the treatment the Club Doctor provided Burgess in his home following a medical incident, was given in the doctor’s private capacity - not in his role as Club Doctor. Consistent with the doctor’s obligation of patient confidentiality, the Club was not informed of the medical incident or the treatment provided. The investigation did find that on one occasion the South Sydney Rabbitohs breached NRL Rules in not reporting an allegation against Burgess from a member of the public to the NRL Integrity Unit. The NRL notes the Rabbitohs have made improvements to policy and procedures to ensure any future allegations are reported to the NRL Integrity Unit. Following consideration of the Club’s response and co-operation, the NRL has fined the Club $20,000 for its breach of the NRL Rules.
The NRL is continuing to offer support to those connected with the investigation. The NRL thanks all witnesses who participated in the investigation.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs acknowledge receipt of a breach notice from the NRL for breaching its rules pertaining to the lack of a prompt reporting to the NRL Integrity and Compliance Unit, an allegation from a member of the public immediately upon becoming aware it could have been reasonably suspected to be a potential breach of the NRL Rules. The Rabbitohs responded to the breach notice at the time and now accepts the fine that has been imposed. The Rabbitohs wish to reiterate that there is no place in our society for violence, harassment or abuse against women. The Club also takes issues of drug use very seriously and has established policies and procedures in place around the use of drugs. The Club works closely with the playing group to support their wellbeing and educate them about drug use, and also works closely with Sport Integrity Australia and the NRL who administer testing of the players. The Rabbitohs now consider this matter to be closed and will be making no further comment at this time.
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