Ex-Wallabies coach sues ARU for $1.1m - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ex-Wallabies coach sues ARU for $1.1m

By Christine Flatley 24/11/2009 02:51:09 PM Comments (0)

Former Wallabies coach John Connolly is suing the Australian Rugby Union and its chief executive for $1.1 million over an allegedly defamatory email sent in the wake of the team's 2007 World Cup defeat.

According to documents lodged in the Supreme Court in Brisbane, John O'Neill sent an email to several top ARU officials in February 2008, urging them to avoid contact with Mr Connolly.

In the email, Mr O'Neill expressed his concern Mr Connolly may have fed sports journalist Danny Weidler damaging information about the ARU, which was then published in what Mr O'Neill claimed was a "very inaccurate and hurtful" article in The Sun-Herald newspaper.

According to the court claim, Mr O'Neill urged ARU high-performance manager Pat Howard, Wallabies team manager Phil Thompson, Wallabies assistant coach Michael Foley and the ARU management committee to "reconsider" whether it was in their career interests to have any further contact with Mr Connolly.

The email also allegedly urged them to advise Mr Connolly that "his days of pandering evil and mischievous propaganda will shortly come to an end".

According to the claim, Mr O'Neill then goes on to describe Mr Connolly as "a person who adds no credit to the game", and assuring them "that his involvement in rugby is at an end from an ARU perspective".

Mr Connolly is claiming the email was defamatory in that it damaged his reputation by painting him as a person of bad character, and caused people to avoid him.

He is seeking $350,000 in damages for the alleged injury to his reputation.

He is also seeking a further $750,000 in special damages, saying he has been unable to obtain high level coaching positions since the email was sent.

Mr Connolly claims he lost the opportunity to be re-employed either as coach of the Queensland Reds, which he coached from 1989 to 2000, or the yet-to-be-established Super 15 consortium.

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