Australian trio face investigation over brawl

Claims that Australian trio James O'Connor, Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale were involved in a drunken brawl in Paris are being investigated

Australia's three most exciting back-line players engaged in a drunken brawl in Paris last November, it was alleged yesterday, threatening to disrupt Australia's World Cup campaign.

Television reports said that James O'Connor and Quade Cooper, the Wallabies playmaker, had a late-night scuffle with teammate Kurtley Beale in the lead-up to the season-ending Test against France.

The reported fight did not appear to affect the Wallabies just days later at Stade Francais when they thrashed the French 59-16 in their biggest win of the year.

The three backs are normally inseparable in the Wallabies camp but the timing of the allegations could not be worse for Robbie Deans's highly rated team, reports said.

Australia have the chance this Saturday to end a 10-year Tri Nations drought with a series decider against the All Blacks, while the World Cup kicks off in New Zealand early next month.

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said it has begun investigating the matter following newspaper reports of an alcohol-fuelled Paris incident.

An ARU spokesman said all relevant parties had been questioned, but inquiries would continue today when Deans, the coach, will name his 22-man team for the weekend's Tri Nations match.

"We will not be discussing players by name," the spokesman told Australian Associated Press late yesterday.

"Allegations of an incident in Paris last year were brought to our attention by the media ... we have made inquiries into these allegations and we continue to make inquiries."

Connor, 21, was on Monday fined AUS$10,000 (Dh380,00) and given a one-match ban by the ARU, ruling him out of the Tri Nations decider, for missing last Thursday's World Cup squad announcement and team photograph following a reported bout of drinking in Sydney.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: August 23, 2011 04:00 AM