So I’ve heard plenty of gay rugby jokes over the past few years, including every possible dirty pun involving the word “scrum.” But this story (copied below) from Australia goes, quite simply, a knuckle too far.
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 20, 2004
The most vile act ever!
Controversial Wests Tigers winger John Hopoate has been suspended for
12 weeks after being found guilty by the NRL Judiciary of poking his
fingers up the anuses of three North Queensland players.
Accused of one of the most bizarre charges in the history of rugby
league, or sport in general for that matter of fact, Hopoate was
officially found guilty of ‘unsportsmanlike interference’.
On the evidence of video footage and the damning testimony from the
three Cowboys players, Hopoate was always likely to be found guilty.
The length of his sentence seen as the only contentious matter.
In the end the NRL Judiciary had little trouble differentiating
between a “wedgie”, a “finger up the arse” and the area between
the “arse and the nuts” before finding Hopoate guilty.
NRL judiciary commissioner Jim Hall described Hopoate’s case as the
worst he had experienced in his 45-year involvement in rugby league.
“I’ve never come across a more disgusting allegation than I’ve had to
deal with now,” he said.
Hopoate, 27, was found guilty on three separate counts of
deliberately sticking his fingers up the anuses of Peter Jones, Paul
Bowman and Glenn Morrison in Saturday night’s match at Dairy Farmers
Hopoate, a former Australian Test winger, insisted he was merely
trying to give Jones and Morrison a wedgie in order to perform a
quick play-the-ball and that he did not stick his finger up Bowman’s
Asked by his consel Bernie Gross QC where he was directing his finger
at Bowman, the Cowboys captain, Hopoate replied: “Between his arse
and his nuts”.
Hopoate maintained he did nothing wrong in administering the wedgies
and went on to say: “I’m a great believer in what happens on the
field should stay there.”
Asked to describe what a wedgie felt like, the Tigers winger
replied: “You get a burning sensation. Your undies are getting reefed
up your arse.”
Hopoate’s defence counsel contended to Jones that his client had
merely administered a “wedgie” on the Cowboy in the seventh minute of
“It wasn’t a wedgie. That’s when your pants are pulled up your arse.
I think I know the difference between a wedgie and someone sticking
their finger up my bum,” said Jones, admitting that while both acts
caused discomfort, they caused different sensations and he could
differentiate between the two.
Jones claimed he hadn’t provoked Hopoate and that afterwards he
immediately expressed his “disgust” and gave the Tongan international
Bowman said after tackling Hopoate in the 17th minute, he stood over
the winger and “that’s when I felt fingers outside my shorts pushing
up my arse”.
“There was pressure there. I know he wasn’t doing it accidentally. He
was definitely pushing.
“I was disgusted. I couldn’t believe it. I know it’s a tough game,
but there’s no room for that.”
Gross argued that Bowman had been excessive in trying to slow Hopoate
from playing the ball by grabbing the North Queensland captain’s leg.
But Bowman maintained that “if he (Hopoate) was a man, he wouldn’t do
When pressed by Gross, Bowman became angry and asked the QC: “If I
held your leg, would that give you the right to put your finger up my
Morrison testified he was caused pain by Hopoate’s action.
“Hopoate was trying to pick my arse. It’s not a thing that I wanted
to happen and it’s not a pleasant thing,” Morrison said.
Tigers coach Terry Lamb, who has played 349 first grade games, said
it was resonably common to be touched in the region of the testicles.
In directing the panel before making a verdict, NRL judiciary
chairman Greg Woods told the former players not be swayed by
their “feeling of revulsion or distaste”.
Gross pre-empted a guilty verdict would cause Hopoate “disgrace and
After the hearing, Wests Tigers chairman John Chalk said the club
would appeal against the ruling.
The hearing also made headlines in London.
Under the headline “The sickest thing in sport? RL star is accused of
going up and under with fingers”, tabloid newspaper The Mirror
compared the allegations against the rugby league player with boxer
Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear.
“There was Vinnie Jones’s infamous grab at Paul Gascoigne. Mike Tyson
got in on the act by biting a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s ear.
But sport can rarely have had such a bizarre charge as that levelled
at rugby league hard man John Hopoate,” the paper said.
“The Wests Tigers star has been cited for “conduct unbecoming” after
allegedly persistently sticking his fingers up opponents’ backsides
while making tackles.”
Liberal broadsheet The Guardian also reported the claims.