What will they do with drunken Sailor?
20 February 2006Â
By BEN KIMBER
Sydney Morning Herald
Wendell Sailor faces a ban and fine after being involved in a drunken altercation with a fan outside a Cape Town nightclub.
The Waratahs winger again made headlines in South Africa for all the wrong reasons, with a front-page report in the Sunday Weekend Argus revealing Sailor had been spotted in an intoxicated state, pushing a fellow nightclub patron to the ground outside the venue early on Saturday morning.
The news could be particularly damaging for Sailor, as NSW officials said they were continuing to investigate the incident and he has a suspended two-match ban hanging over his head from an indiscretion last year when with the national team in the same city. In that incident, Sailor was out late at a nightclub on the Wednesday before a Test and intervened in an altercation between Lote Tuqiri and Matt Henjak.
The weekend's incident occurred outside the Sohbar club in Newlands, within 200 metres of the team hotel.
The club was formerly called Billy the Bums and was once part-owned by Springboks Bobby Skinstad and Robbie Fleck.
After being ruled out of Saturday's game with a hamstring injury, Sailor had headed to the club with two other teammates, who were also not required in the match-day 22.
He had had a week of highs and lows, emotionally charged when celebrating NSW's victory over the Queensland Reds but disappointed to miss out on facing the Stormers.
"It's very disappointing because I know the rules more than anyone about over here," Sailor explained. "I got ruled out and was very frustrated, so it was a good opportunity to have a couple of drinks. I had some wine at dinner and then I knew that I wasn't going to be out for too long.
"Then, between the hours of 10 and one, I certainly picked up the pace a bit with the boys, and ... I'd been talking to people all night.
"Certainly the South Africans love their rugby, but I think by the end of the night I'd just had enough and I wanted to go. I went to call, I think it was Matt Giteau, outside, [on the phone] and a young guy came up to me sort of in my face and said something to me and I pushed him away. I couldn't really remember pushing him away, because it's not my go."
Sailor originally said early reports of the incident were incorrect, suggesting he would consider legal action if such a story were printed.
But after reading the Argus and following further inquiries by the Herald, he agreed the broad strokes of the report were correct.
The Herald tracked down a witness who saw Sailor push the man to the ground.
"It was nothing, a little push," the witness, who wished to remain anonymous, said. "He pushed the guy away and he went down flat, he was helped up and they shook hands. It was fine. He [Sailor] is just a person - I think maybe the guy wanted a photo or something."
The Argus report suggested the push was a response to a racist comment but, while he said his memory of events was sketchy, Sailor denied any such comments were made.
"I won't be suing anyone, but the story in the paper [wasn't quite accurate], there was no racial slur," he said. "I don't remember pushing, there was no real big fracas or whatever.
"The guy was in my space and I was outside trying to make a phone call and he was following me, but still I'm a bit better than that, and it's obviously not something that I need to be doing or want to be doing being in the position I'm in."
Sailor confirmed he was intoxicated and had vomited outside the club. He was disappointed with his behaviour but believed the matter would be quickly settled without serious repercussions.
"They said it's a minor matter. It's obviously been sorted [on the spot]," he said. "I think the guy and I shook hands. Obviously I'm disappointed in myself ... but also I couldn't really remember the incident, probably had a few too many drinks at the bar in that space of time. I knew I had to be home at one o'clock to get a decent rest in before weights and fitness.
"I saw it as a chance to release, and I certainly did that."
Sailor may have put the incident behind him, but team manager Scott Harrison said an inquiry into the matter was still under way late Saturday night South African time.
With no official complaint from a member of the public, NSW may decide to put the matter to rest, though if they do cite Sailor with a code-of-conduct breach the ARU could become involved and Sailor's suspension could be invoked and a fine issued.
And while Sailor may have been hotel-bound on Saturday night, the team's muted celebrations of its 32-26 victory over the Stormers went ahead at the same popular venue that had help bring their teammate undone the previous night.