The NRL sure must enjoy controversy, what do they say, any news is good news. Are they actually trying to recruit fans or alienate them? What till you hear this. Mathew Lodge, a former player who had his contract registered with the NRL this season to play for the Brisbane Broncos in 2015 harassed two women on a Upper west side street in Manhattan, NY.
As they were getting out of a taxi, Lodge yelled at them ‘this is the night you die’ if they didn’t come back to Australia with him, he then forced his way into their apartment building and when John Cartwright, an apartment owner came out to help the women in the hallway Lodge barged his way into Cartwright’s apartment, smashed furntiure and terrorized his family by punching him in the head whilst his wife and nine year old son cowered in the bathroom, as Lodge tried to kick down the door.
When the NYPD arrived Lodge threw a wine bottle at them as eight officers subdued him with guns drawn. Of course Lodge blamed prescription pills mixed with alcohol. Apparently this all isn’t heinous enough for the NRL when they decided to green light his way back into Rugby League.
After the incident Lodge navigated his way through the US Court system virtually unscathed but was ordered to pay $1.6 million in compensation to the victims, not surprisingly they have yet to receive a cent whilst the NRL have conveniently decided they won’t pay by declaring “we don’t get involved in civil matters”. Last week Lodge made his debut for Brisbane in a 34-12 loss to the Dragons, where every time he touched the ball a reign of jeers and boo’s descended down upon him.
I’m all for second chances but there are occasions when you’ve got to rubber stamp a player’s contract with “never to play again”, Lodge must have found a ‘genie’ in the backyard because he sure is lucky. Watch the video and tell me he didn’t deserve jail time, pay SOME compensation or at least get blacklisted from the NRL, but none of those things happened, it’s as if this horrific event never occurred.
If Wayne Bennett decides Lodge is a good enough forward this season and beyond he could play another ten years in the NRL and still not pay back a cent, he could win a Premiership, play State of Origin and yet a family in New York will have to deal with the mental and physical scars well beyond Lodge’s revamped NRL career.
Over the course of the last few years the NRL have tried to woo female fans by creating ‘white ribbon day’ and raising awareness of and condoning violence against women, they’ve tried to minimize the actual violence on the field by banning the shoulder charge and threatening instant suspensions for players throwing punches, in essence it was a kinder/gentler Rugby League, look mums and dads it’s ok for your kids to play, we are tough but not brutish. They’re kidding right, you can throw all that out the window, they say they don’t condone violence but they actually do.
When NRL CEO Todd Greenberg was grilled on Fox Sports about this incident, violence against women and if the NRL should draw a line in the sand about players being reinstated into the game, Greenberg replied “the easy thing to say is anyone who does it, they don’t play, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the right decision”. Ah, yes it is.
The NRL have spoken loud and clear with this decision, their hypocrisy knows no bounds, Lodge might be reformed and remorseful, but that’s not the point, it never was.