"Rugby league culture has been exposed this week as the big, festering boil it is..."

1pm BREAKING NEWS: Matty Johns ‘steps aside’ from Footy Show -for now –  then records interview with Tracey Grimshaw for A Current Affair tonight.

So says sports journalist Rebecca Wilson who has written a brilliant editorial in News Ltd papers today.
I know this is the third time I’ve posted about this in the past week but your comments are still flooding in so I’m reading that as an indication that it’s still top of mind and something you want to talk about. I know I do. Rebecca writes:

The Four Corners
story has done more than uncover two disgruntled women and their
allegations of disgraceful behaviour by professional rugby league
players. It may have finally caused the penny to drop…… 


…… a rugby league
media and fan base who for years have been happy to ignore, and even
laugh at, the appalling antics of players.

Matthew Johns must now be sacked from his job as the host of the code’s
flagship program. Those who say this was seven years ago and should not
be aired now need to have a look at the lifetime of damage Johns and
his teammates have done to that young woman. More importantly, David
Gallop and Nine boss David Gyngell must review the permanent harm Johns
has done to the code.

I received dozens of emails from female
league fans who cried throughout the New Zealand woman’s interview on
Monday night. They will never go to a league game again, let alone
allow any of their sons to play the game.

Johns, Newcastle’s
Dane Tilse and the rest of them have done irreparable damage to rugby
league. The cover-ups back then have led to more and more players
believing that they, too, will escape punishment now. We saw the
complacency on last Thursday night’s Footy Show – a short
apology to Johns’ wife and family, nothing to the girl and a pat on the
back from his co-host Paul Vautin, who drew what he thought was a line
under it with a typically glib, “Let’s get on with the show”.

A core
group of male league reporters has for many years tacitly approved the
antics of professional league players by ignoring them and sniggering
behind the backs of anyone who dares to question those antics. Not a
single one of them has even taken a stand against it. Club bosses and
team minders are the same. So ingrained is shocking sexual conduct in
the league culture that even women close to it become numbed. Each time
I write it, I am threatened, abused and snubbed by mainly male league

But one single woman has changed that for all of us. Prior to watching the Four Corners
program, the argument went along gender lines. The response to the
reports that filtered out before we actually saw the young woman’s
interview was muted by what many thought was the girl’s apparent
approval of what had transpired in Christchurch that night.

league culture has been exposed in the past week as the big, festering
boil that it is. Gender counselling has had no impact. Think tanks with
rookies just make young blokes snigger behind closed doors.

players like Dane Tilse and Matty Johns are allowed to thrive and
prosper within the league world, those following them will continue to
believe gang bangs are normal and those of us who criticise them are
just old fashioned.

David Gallop would surely know by now that
this is about kids and families. He saw first hand on Monday night how
most parents felt when they watched Four Corners.

must now deal with this first hand, too. He should ignore the
commentators who send him text messages that plead with him not to act.
“Nobody cares David – they only care about the footy.” Those days have
long gone. Half the problem is that these opinion leaders are not
journalists. They are former players and coaches who have turned a
blind eye to sexual misconduct because they used to be part of it, too.

The NRL can’t wash their hands and blame “clubland” any more.
The time has come to rip up league and television contracts. Until
then, the total lack of respect for females will remain and the game
will rot. If an example had been set in 2002, perhaps we could have
avoided the litany of scandals that have marked the past seven years.

Gallop may well squirm and flinch even more in coming weeks because if
he and his brains trust don’t come up with some very, very tough
solutions, league’s day of reckoning is fast approaching.

You can read Rebecca’s full editorial here and you may want to leave a comment there if you support what she says. No doubt the NRL will be reading. So should Matty Johns be sacked? This morning, it’s looking as if that may happen with Channel 9 considering his future with the station as the host of the NRL’s flagship, Logie-award-winning show. Is that the answer?

We’re all baying for blood but this issue is bigger than Matty Johns. Will the whole disgusting mess die down once he’s sacked? Until the next time? Because that would be a travesty.

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