Tuqiri sues ARU in NSW Supreme Court - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tuqiri sues ARU in NSW Supreme Court

By Ed Jackson 08/07/2009 07:13:11 PM Comments (0)

Lawyers for sacked Wallabies winger Lote Tuqiri have commenced legal action in the NSW Supreme Court against the Australian Rugby Union for breach of contract.

The action came on the very day the Rugby Union Player's Association (RUPA) said some Wallabies were feeling fearful and intimidated in the wake of Tuqiri's sacking.

The RUPA on Wednesday announced they were launching an investigation - headed by an unnamed "high-profile" retired judge - into the reasons why the dual international had his contract worth up to $1 million a year ripped up by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU).

On the same day, Tuqiri's manager Les Ross released a statement confirming the superstar's lawyer Mark O'Brien had commenced proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court against the ARU for breach of contract.

The statement said due to the court proceedings, Tuqiri could have no involvement in the inquiry announced by the RUPA into his termination.

"As the matter is now before the courts there will be no further comment," the statement said.

RUPA chief executive Tony Dempsey said several Wallabies, including captain Stirling Mortlock, were supporting the Association's action as they seek answers over Tuqiri's dismissal.

Announcing the sacking last week, the ARU cited an alleged breach of the player code of conduct but declined to give any detail of the offence because of possible legal action from Tuqiri challenging the decision.

The former rugby league star was reportedly on his final warning following some off-field indiscretions, including being fined $20,000 and banned for two matches for failing to attend a team medical in July 2007 and being fined and suspended after a nightclub spat with teammate Matt Henjak in South Africa in July 2005.

Dempsey said players were fearful about the security of their own contracts as a result of the sacking.

"There is a feeling of fear and intimidation (from) a number of players and they want to understand whether or not they are also walking on broken glass here and are they subjecting themselves to summary termination," Dempsey told reporters.

"Players are uncertain where they're standing and we need to create that certainty. We need to create some clarity around what constitutes a termination of a contract and what doesn't."

Dempsey said the RUPA had decided to initiate the investigation after uncovering information relating to Tuqiri's sacking which he said raised concerns over the ARU and NSW Rugby Union's conduct, but refused to reveal that information.

"I don't want to steal Lote's thunder," Dempsey said.

"I don't want to play out what is inevitably going to rise out in the court action that Lote's running against the ARU.

"I want to stick to the focus of our investigation. We have information enough to arouse our suspicions that there may be a possible breach of the collective bargaining agreement and it's important for the players that we take the action we are.

"We want answers as to the process, we want answers as to the reasons and we want to make sure that there has been no personal vendetta by anyone within the ARU against Lote."

The ARU said in a statement they were confident the issue had been dealt with correctly.

"ARU appreciates that RUPA represents players interests. Let them be assured this matter has been dealt with in a proper manner," the ARU said.

"ARU has also consistently stated we will not be going into details of the Lote Tuqiri termination due to the threat of legal proceedings."

Dempsey said that if the investigation revealed a breach of the collective bargaining agreement they would launch their own legal action against the ARU or NSWRU.

Despite the player concerns, Dempsey said industrial action had not been discussed and was unlikely to become an issue in the future.

"That's premature and hasn't been discussed at all," he said.

"I would be very surprised if the players were to take that position."

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