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Posted 09 Apr 2001   For week ended April 06, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 06Apr01

By Kent Larsen

LDS Rugby Player's Shocking Conduct May End Career

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -- LDS Rugby Player John Hopoate's professional career may have ended this past week amid a storm of controversy. Hopoate reached an agreement Sunday with his team, the Wests Tigers (in Australia's National Rugby League), under which he resigned. The action came less than a week after Hopoate was suspended from the league for 12 games for his unusual method of distracting his opponents.

The controversy involving Hopoate erupted at the beginning of last week after three players on the Queensland Cowboy's complained about where Hopoate had poked them during a game. A review of game video tapes supported their claims, leading the league to suspend Hopoate in a hearing on March 28th. Hopoate was disciplined for three charges of conduct contrary to the spirit of the game for "putting his fingers in the anal area of other players."

The conduct was so shocking and disgusting to fans and the Australian public that it has grown into a major controversy. Sports talk radio programs in the country have buzzed with fans disagreeing about every askpect of the case, as well as telling jokes about the practice, which they have named 'the Hopoate.' Some players and even Hopoate's coach, Terry Lamb, have defended him, saying that what occurs on the field should stay on the field. Lamb even suggested that much worse things happen regularly on the field, alluding to harrassment by players involving the other side of the vitcim's body.

By the end of last week, the story had made news worldwide, and Australian journalists had identified a total of eight times that Hopoate had been caught on video assaulting fellow players. Other players have also come forward to claim that they too had been victimized.

By Sunday, the Wests Tigers' board was ready to meet and terminate Hopoate's $120,000 a year contract, in spite of the disclosure by coach Lamb that the team had seen Hopoate's antics on tape a month ago and laughed at it. Lamb admitted that the way it was handled tacitly gave Hopoate approval for the assaults.

In negotiations Sunday, Hopoate's manager avoided the termination, and negotiated a $50,000 payment for Hopoate's resignation. After the settlement, news reports say Hopoate escaped the press by attending his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint services.

The disclosure and resignation is a crushing blow to Hopoate, who had overcome a reputation for trash-talking and nightclubbing. Before his reformation last year, Hopoate had faced the league's disciplinary commission seven times in the past four years. But the 27-year-old switched teams last year an re-joined the LDS Church, paying more attention to his wife and five children in a turn around that even caught the attention of Mormon News last year. Hopoate then attributed his wild reputation to his Tongan ancestry, and said he had "learnt to control myself on the field."


Tigers exit signals end for Hopoate
Sydney Australia Morning Herald 2Apr01 S2
By Brad Walter and Steve Mascord

League's ugly act that dare not speak its name
Sydney Australia Morning Herald 30Mar01 S2
By Joseph Kerr

Hopoate announces resignation
League HQ (AAP) 1Apr01 S2

It may not be good and clean but it's all entertainment
Sydney Australia Morning Herald 30Mar01 S2
By Steve Mascord

Hopoate's coach admits blame
League HQ 1Apr01 S2
By Danny Weidler

Seriously, league's lewd behaviour law is the biggest laugh of all
League HQ 31Mar01 S2
By Richard Hinds

Rugger Resigns Over Rectal Fouls
PlanetOut News 4Apr01 S2
By Matt Alsdorf:

See also:
LDS Rugby Player Reforms, Gains Teammates' Respect


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