Racial slurs alleged in local league
UPDATE, 1.30pm: THE Ballina Seagulls has announced it will not lodge a complaint with the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League governing body over allegations of racial vilification towards its players in a game at the weekend.
Read the full report here.
APRIL 9: ALLEGATIONS of racial vilification and a player walk-off before full-time in a rugby league match at Les Donnelly Field, Mullumbimby, on Sunday are being investigated.
Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League president Brian Rix received a written complaint from a spectator who was at the game watching a reserve grade match between the Seagulls and Mullumbimby Giants.
Ballina club won the game 28-20 but it was alleged Mullumbimby players walked off the field with three minutes left on the clock and that racist remarks were made against Ballina players.
The Ballina club has a number of indigenous players in reserve grade and first grade.
"Racism was rife and there was a total lack of sportsmanship," Bec McEwan wrote on The Northern Star Facebook page.
"Some of the racial things they said on the field were disgusting," she added yesterday.
"They walked from the ground with time still on the clock, conceding defeat.
"Once the siren had gone only one of their players shook hands with Ballina.
"This is appalling behaviour and every one of those players should be reprimanded."
Mullumbimby club president Stan Butler said he hadn't received any complaints from the Ballina club about racial vilification but said questions would be asked.
"I'm not aware of any racism issues but it's definitely something we would take seriously if a complaint was made," Butler said.
"There will be an internal investigation this week and we'll be talking to the players."
He admitted players did leave the field early but said most of them shook hands after full-time.
"I don't know the full story but I think there was an issue with Ballina wasting time with the ball in the last minute, so some of the boys walked off in protest.
"It's not true that they didn't shake hands and we did return to the field."
The NRRRL's Rix said the governing body had the power to suspend clubs in racial vilification cases.
He also suggested a fine might be imposed on the Mullumbimby club for the players walking off the field early.
"Suspending a club is a fairly drastic measure. Our job is to mediate and get both sides of the story," Rix said.
"If we find that something has happened out there we will definitely act on it."
In a separate incident on the weekend a player had his wallet and phone stolen from a dressing room at Crozier Field, Lismore.