There is a big story in Australia at the moment regarding sex scandals between groups of professional, high profile sportsmen and young women who participate in “consensual” group sex with these sportsmen.Not all incidents are evidently consensual though. The ABC’s current affairs programme Four Corners looked into the way NRL (National Rugby League) players conduct themselves off-field and their attitudes to alcohol and women. I’ve been reading the transcript of the Four Corners programme and my word, some of the reading is disgusting. Some of the behaviour highlighted is beyond belief. One of the teams season launches (the Manly Sea Eagles) was so fuelled with bad drunken behaviour, I found myself slack-jawed reading about it. There was an incident involving Sea Eagles player Anthony Watmough in which he was at the ceremony badly intoxicated and was abusive to one young lady – apparently for the appalling reason that she couldn’t remember his name and didn’t recognise him as the “famous footy player” he so believed he is! He then went on to verbally abuse her to her own father, saying “How could you let her leave the house dressed like that?” (for obviously Mr Watmough believed her to be scantily clad) and then proceeded to punch him!! Another incident highlighted saw team members from a different club behave in a disorderly fashion at a University campus. What’s wrong with that? I hear you ask. Well, not anything especially, other than the players had absolutely no reason to be AT the campus, and one helped himself to trying to sexually abuse a young woman who was sleeping in her dorm. Yes, she was intoxicated herself, but she was in her OWN private dorm, asleep! She didn’t invite him back to her dorm, she didn’t consent to anything. She was asleep in her dorm, and this player just walked into her room and assaulted her! Another incident saw a group of players take back a “footy groupie” to a hotel room and forced her to perform oral sex on several players whilst being filmed on mobile phones. She was actually told to say that she’d given her consent to the sex acts, TO camera!! A woman who was involved in arranging “groupy” meetings with footballers on Facebook said that one of the men present told her about the incident. She wanted to know if she knew the woman and so asked the player who she was. He replied “oh, just some slurry from around Cronulla.” (Cronulla is a suburb in Sydney’s south.) One of the biggest stories to surface in recent years was an incident that happened with members of the Canterbury Bulldogs team in 2004. It was during an away game which saw players staying at a Coffs Harbour resort involved in a group sex act with a young woman. There was an investigation. Team members were interviewed, but no charges were laid. There didn’t appear to be any indication the group sex was consensual, and the woman in question was insulted by the players and discarded. Roy Masters, sports writer and former NRL coach, seemed to believe that players participated in group sex activities as part of a “bonding exercise”. That is the most unbelievably disgusting excuse I’ve ever heard. By way of airing that opinion it is tantamount to condoning it! Four Corners revealed that two years before the Bulldogs sex scandal, there was another sex scandal that took place while (surprise, surprise, given their high regard for women) the Cronulla Sharks team were on tour in New Zealand. Four Corners spoke to a woman they referred to as “Clare”. She told the programme she was invited back to one of the players rooms. She was initially accompanied by two players. What was to follow was (in her testimony) NON-consensual group sex. She described aspects of the incident in detail, including mauling and mass fondling of her body and having players sexual organs probed and rammed into her face. Players were either having intercourse with her, sexually abusing her in some other way, or in the room masturbating over what was taking place. Clare was 19 years old at the time. Over the last seven years she has had a severe alcohol problem, has been suicidal and now has to bare the brunt of Australian public opinion, in which a vast swathe just believe her to be a whore, a trouble-maker and someone who, quite frankly, deserved what she got! I think that is absolutely disgusting. Clare named one player in particular that she remembered from the ordeal, Matthew Johns. Given what I’ve seen in the past, not the brightest colour in the crayon set. He is now an ex-player and has a role in presenting a tawdry television programme, called The Footy Show, based loosely on discussing the weeks football (NRL), but more about juvenile antics and supposed “funny” segments. Johns has an alter ego on the show called Reg Reagan. From what I’ve seen he’s as about as funny as a tooth canal. What classes for humour in my country of birth sometimes leaves me in despair. But to each their own, I suppose. Mr Johns doesn’t deny being involved in the incident. In fact, he admits to having sex with her! And he’s a married man, but that’s okay, all is forgiven. But if he had a modicum of decency, he’d at least reveal who the other team members were in the room with him. Oh, but no, he’s keeping schtum, so is his team-mate Brett Firman, who also admits to having sex with Clare. But in a rather un-team-like manner, all other members are keeping quiet and not revealing their involvement. There was a police investigation at the time in New Zealand, and no charges were laid. Last week Mr Johns made some pathetic statement about the accusations raised in the Four Corners programme and subsequently through the rest of the TV and print media. You can’t say sorry enough. Maybe to your family, but absolutely nothing to Clare. Nothing like “If I have caused upset, anguish and pain to the lady involved, I unreservedly apologise”. No, nothing like that. What a man, eh?! What a hero!! Co-host Paul “Fatty” Vautin goes on to say, after the statement, “Alright mate, well said. Alright, let’s get on with the show”. FFS! That’s disgusting. Channel Nine (makers of the Footy Show) then stood Johns down from his presenting role. Some sanity prevailed. Sadly, you only have to see the comments on the YouTube clip, and the numerous Facebook groups to know that the tide of support is behind Johns. One of the most eye-opening things in this whole Four Corners report was the attitude the younger players were shown to have in reference to sexual abuse on woman and men. Shown two video clips in which in the first incident a woman goes to a hotel room with two players, has consensual sex with one, but gets raped by the other, the general consensus by the players was “She put out first”. So the fact that she had consensual sex with the first man didn’t justify her saying “NO” to the second. Other comments went “She flirted with them both.” That, basically, she asked for it! Nice! Asked whether they thought the players might face consequences, the opinion of the players was that male number two (the rapist) might, but male number one (the seemingly consensual participant) might “get away with it” depending “how good his lawyer is” says one player!! My word! Given a second video to watch in which a drunken man is raped by a member of the same sex, the opinions and views of the young players changes somewhat. I don’t think I need to explain that in this incidence all the players realise that what happened was unjustified, immorally wrong, and actually WAS rape. One player, having a particular epiphany says “You don’t really ask for trouble if you have too much to drink and get raped by a bloke. You don’t ask for that.” REALLY? One of the older players there, showing the videos says to the young men “Can we see that there’s some sort of double standard that may apply here? The girl’s gone out to have a drink. No one said that she didn’t ask for it but yet the male goes out and has a drink and it’s crystal clear that he didn’t ask for it.” Lord help me I can hear the groans of realisation and epiphanies as I type. I rest my case.