Richmond President Peggy O’Neal has come down hard on dumped Tiger duo Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones declaring the issue wouldn’t be “swept under the carpet” by the club.
In the biggest COVID protocol breach for the AFL the pair broke league rules by travelling in an Uber to a notorious Gold Coast nightspot on Cavill Ave.
Stack, 20, and Coleman-Jones, 21, were allegedly evicted from the Hollywood Showgirls gentleman’s club on the Glitter Strip’s Orchard Ave before engaging in a fight just metres from a police station that left them both injured.
Coleman-Jones sustained minor facial injuries and was treated in hospital.
Police were called to the incident and fined both players $800.
The AFL hit them hard, suspending both for 10 matches, expelling them the Richmond Queensland hub and fining the club $100,000.
It created calls that the Tigers had become “too big for their boots” after premiership wins in 2017 and 2019.
O’Neal, in a letter to members, said there was “no excuse” but the club wouldn’t ignore “several things” which have gone wrong for the Tigers off the field this season.
“To say that the entire Club was disappointed with what transpired last week would be an understatement,” she said.
“Callum Coleman-Jones and Sydney Stack made a series of poor decisions that resulted in them being sent home and suspended for 10 matches, which was in addition to the $100,000 fine that was imposed and which will count against next year‘s soft cap. Their actions were unacceptable and completely at odds with what we stand for as a Club and, most importantly, they know that they have let you down.
“Callum and Sydney are young men but nonetheless they are mature enough to understand the magnitude of their mistakes. Nothing excuses what happened, but as a Club we also have a responsibility to them and, if they are willing to do so, to help them learn from these mistakes and to become better people.
“Equally, I want to assure you these off-field incidents are not being ignored nor swept under the carpet. We have strong, experienced leaders across our Club, and within the playing group, and these issues have been acknowledged and are receiving much attention.”
O’Neal said angry supporters had contacting the club asking “whether the culture of the club is at risk?”
She said the culture remained strong and the club was committed to regaining the trust of their fan base.
“I can assure you that the Club has built a strong culture on strong foundations; our culture is not flimsy. However, that does not mean that things won’t go off course from time to time,” she said.
“All of us know that there are no guarantees that people will always act wisely or respectfully but the true measure of the culture of an organisation is how those errors are addressed. The capable management at our Club immediately went to work figuring out what went wrong, if anything more could have been done and what we can do to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Everyone is determined to regain your trust.
“This Club has been committed to care and connection among players, staff and members over a long period of time. I know that this commitment has been a key to our recent success, but we must consistently and continually reflect that commitment. Everyone at the Club needs to epitomise our values, and any incident that lessens the pride our members have in the Club is a concern for me and the Board.”