Pablo Matera reinstated as Argentina rugby captain after governing body backflips on punishment for racist tweets


Two days after banning captain Pablo Matera and two other players for racist social media posts, the Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) has backflipped on its decision.

Flanker Matera was stripped of the captaincy and, along with lock Guido Petti and hooker Santiago Socino, suspended on Tuesday for comments posted between 2011 and 2013 that disparaged black people and those from other South American nations.

Among Matera’s tweets were remarks about running over black people in his car and celebrating leaving South Africa because it was “full of blacks”.

“The Argentine Rugby Union strongly repudiates the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Los Pumas team on social media,” an initial statement read.

Since then, according to the UAR, the players have apologised and, combined with their good behaviour in the years since the comments were posted, the governing body lifted the suspension.

“The preventive measures are unnecessary so we have resolved to lift the suspension of the three players and reinstate the captaincy to Pablo Matera,” a statement read.

Despite being reinstated, Matera, Petti and Socino were not named to face the Wallabies at Parramatta Stadium in the final match of the Tri-Nations on Saturday, with centre Jeronimo de la Fuente named captain.

Coach Mario Ledesma said the reinstatement had been made in agreement with UAR to shield the players after they were subjected to a “lot of hate” in the past few days.

“All I can say about these three fine players and great men is that they are great human beings,” he told a press conference in Sydney.

“They have been suffering a lot this week, their families have been suffering a lot this week, and it’s really sad to see. Obviously they acknowledge what they did and they are really regretful and ashamed of what they did, and we all are.”

‘He’s still the captain’

The UAR said the players had shown themselves to be “people with firm values and worth being part of our team”.

Reports in Argentina said the UAR’s reversal had been the result of protests by former and current players and clubs in the country.

Matera was a national hero after leading the Pumas past the All Blacks last month.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

The storm over the historic social media posts followed criticism of the team for not doing enough to mark the recent death of Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona before last week’s loss to New Zealand.

Matera later apologised for the omission and the discovery of the posts completed a fall from grace for the flanker, who was lauded around the world last month for leading the Pumas to their first Test win over the All Blacks.

Ledesma said the players had changed in the years since they made the social media posts, which the UAR described as “imprudent and immature”.

“I can say they are not the same people they were when they were 17, 18 years old,” Ledesma said.

“Pablo won’t be playing this game but he’s still the captain.”

Reuters



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US scuba diving boat fire: Captain charged with 34 counts of manslaughter | US News


A captain of a scuba diving boat that caught fire and sank off the coast of California last year has been charged with 34 counts of manslaughter.

All the passengers on board and one crew member – a total of 21 women and 13 men ranging in age from 16 to 62 years old – died when the fire broke out in the early hours of 2 September in one of the deadliest maritime disasters in recent US history.

Jerry Boylan, 67, was charged with 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter for “misconduct, negligence and inattention” after allegedly failing to train his crew, conduct fire drills and have a roving night watchman on the Conception when the blaze started.

US lawyer Nick Hanna said in a statement: “As a result of the alleged failures of Captain Boylan to follow well-established safety rules, a pleasant holiday dive trip turned into a hellish nightmare as passengers and one crew member found themselves trapped in a fiery bunkroom with no means of escape.”

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The Conception was destroyed by fire near Santa Cruz Island

Boylan and four other crew members managed to escape the burning boat after he made a breathless mayday call.

All 33 passengers and one crew member died in the bunkroom.

Some of the victims were found with their shoes on, leading to speculation they were trying to escape but were trapped by the flames that blocked a stairwell and a small hatch that were the only exits to the deck above.

A coroner’s report established that they all died of smoke inhalation.

The rare federal charges against Boylan were brought under a pre-Civil War law aimed at holding steamboat captains and crew responsible for sea disasters that occurred more often in the past.

Each count carries a possible 10-year prison term with conviction.

Flowers and messages left in memory of the victims
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In Santa Barbara, flowers and messages were left in memory of the victims

The cause of the blaze has been under investigation for than a year and may be impossible to pinpoint.

It took place on the final night of a three-day Labor Day weekend diving excursion near Santa Cruz Island, off Santa Barbara.

In a bid to avoid payouts to the victims’ families, the company that owned the boat, Truth Aquatics Inc, has filed a suit in federal court under a provision in maritime law.

Most of the relatives are filing claims against boat owners Glen and Dana Fritzler and the company.



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Pumas captain axed over tweet ‘atrocities’


Argentina have sensationally stripped Pablo Matera of the captaincy and stood him down from Saturday’s final Tri Nations clash with the Wallabies as they investigate racist social media posts.

Just weeks after becoming a national hero as he inspired the Pumas to their first win over the All Blacks, Matera is under fire for tweets he allegedly made between 2011 and 2013 relating to Bolivian and Paraguayan domestic staff and black people.

The Argentina Rugby Union issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the comments and announcing the sacking of Matera, as well as veteran lock Guido Petti and hooker Santiago Socino, before the Sydney clash with Australia.

“The Argentine Rugby Union strongly repudiates the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Los Pumas team on social media and meeting as an emergency, the Board of Directors resolves:

“In the first place, revoke the captaincy of Pablo Matera and request the staff to propose a new captain to the Board of Directors.

“Second, suspend Pablo Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino from the national team until their disciplinary situation is defined.

“Third, open a disciplinary case to the three players mentioned, which will be handled by the disciplinary commission of the Argentine Rugby Union.”

Matera has closed his Twitter account and made his Instagram account private but issued an apology before he did so.

“I had a tougher time. I am very ashamed. Apologies to all those who were offended by the atrocities I wrote,” Matera posted on Instagram.

“At that moment I did not imagine who I was going to become. Today I have to take charge of what I said 9 years ago.

“I’m also sorry to my team and my family for the moment they are going through my actions and thanks to the people who love me for their support.”

Matera delivered a huge performance at flanker in the Pumas’ historic win over New Zealand, which shocked the rugby world given their limited preparation due to COVID-19.

They backed it up with a 15-15 draw with the Wallabies last month and face the Wallabies again on Saturday night.

Shocked Wallabies prop Allan Alaalatoa was told of the news at a press conference and said Matera’s absence would be a “huge loss” for Argentina.

While he didn’t know the content of the tweets he predicted the Pumas would rally at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night.





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Argentina Rugby 2020, Pablo Matera sacked, Pumas captain sacked over racist tweets


Argentina rugby skipper Pablo Matera was stripped of the captaincy and suspended over “discriminatory and xenophobic” tweets on Tuesday.

Just over two weeks after the flanker led the Pumas to their first win over the All Blacks, the Argentina Rugby Union “revoked” his captaincy and suspended him along with fellow players Guido Petti and Santiago Socino.

“The Argentina Rugby Union forcefully rejects the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Pumas squad on social media,” a statement read, after offensive tweets dating from 2011-2013 came to light.

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Pablo Matera sacked as Pumas captain for ‘xenophobic’ tweets


“Second, suspend Pablo Matera, Guido Petti and Santiago Socino from the national team until their disciplinary situation is defined.

“Third, initiate a disciplinary process for the three mentioned players, in charge of the Disciplinary Commission of the Argentine Rugby Union.

“Although the messages were expressed between 2011 and 2013 and do not represent the integrity as people that the three showed during this time in Los Pumas, from the Argentine Rugby Union we condemn any expression of hatred and consider it unacceptable…”

The offensive tweets date back to 2011 and 2012.

The series of tweets from Pablo Matera.

The series of tweets from Pablo Matera.Credit:Twitter

Translated via Google, they range from offensive comments about Bolivians and Paraguayans to extremely racist comments about black people.

One tweet translates to: “SOUTH AFRICA baby! I’m finally leaving this country full of blacks ouch.”

Another racist tweet reads: “Nice morning to go in the car to step on black.”

Matera issued an apology via Instagram after the tweets emerged.

“I had a tougher time. I am very ashamed. Apologies to all those who were offended by the atrocities I wrote,” he said.

“At that moment I did not imagine who I was going to become. Today I have to take charge of what I said 9 years ago.

Pablo Matera of the Pumas talks to Argentina coach Mario Ledesma.

Pablo Matera of the Pumas talks to Argentina coach Mario Ledesma.Credit:Getty Images

“I’m also sorry to my team and my family for the moment they are going through my actions and thanks to the people who love me for their support.”

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Matera has deleted his Twitter account.

More to come

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Australian Test captain Tim Paine run out for one by teenager in Tasmanian grade cricket


“It wasn’t really anything special,” Elliston-Buckley said.

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“Jake Doran blocked it at the stumps and Tim Paine was at the non-striker’s end and called ‘yes’ and I think he misjudged it a little bit. It rolled to me and I just underarmed a two-metre throw at the stumps and ran him out. It caught me off guard a little bit but it was good to get him out.”

Did the youngster have any words for the Australian keeper?

“I don’t think I’m that good at cricket to sledge him, so I just let it go.”

Elliston-Buckley said his teammates had been surprised to learn on Thursday night that they would be going up against the national skipper.

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“We were like, ‘how good’ but also ‘oh shit, this could be a tough game!’

“Obviously it was a bit of a shock seeing his name on the team sheet to start with. But it was a great experience. I’ve always liked the way Tim Paine goes about his cricket. So it was great for me as a keeper as well.

“Seeing how he was almost down and out with his cricket, and then made that big comeback, pushed his way into the Australian side, it really shows you can push for that spot no matter how far you think you might be behind everyone else. I’ve kind of missed out on a few state squads but it still gives me hope to push for Tassie sides and even the Australian side.”

Unfortunately, Paine couldn’t stay to chat after the match, needing to play a second game against Kinborough. The Raiders team returned to their Launceston base, so Elliston-Buckley didn’t have a chance to talk to the veteran.

While Paine dabbled at the lower level, fellow red-ball specialists Will Pucovski and Joe Burns had the weekend off ahead of their bat-off for Australia A against the tourists. Burns is under pressure to keep his spot at the top of the Australian order following the Victorian Pucovski’s extraordinary start to the Shield season.

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Oldest living Kangaroos captain Dick Poole celebrates 90th birthday


Dick Poole brought up many milestones during a fantasic playing career in rugby league, and on Friday he celebrated the off-field variety.

Australia’s oldest living Kangaroos captain marked his 90th birthday with family and friends at his Earlwood home. Poole’s first-grade career began with Newtown way back in 1950, where he played 115 games before a 32-game stint at Wests. He returned to the Bluebags as their coach after hanging up the boots.

Poole’s playing career was a storied one; the centre captained the Kangaroos to World Cup glory and also represented NSW on 10 occasions.

Even in his twilight years, he remains as sharp off the field as he was on it. Asked what he remembers about his playing days, he quipped “I can’t remember” before providing an insight into how much rugby league has changed over the years.



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Former Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen resigned to never fighting Sonny Bill Williams as he focuses on Mark Hunt bout


“I’ve got nothing against him, I’ve got enormous respect for what he’s done in everything. I think it’s probably past that time now.”

Gallen will instead have to content himself with a battle against former UFC star Mark Hunt. At 46 years of age, Hunt may not have his previous pulling power, nor that of Williams. However, he remains a towering figure in mixed martial arts and there will be plenty of interest to see if he can inflict Gallen’s first boxing loss.

Paul Gallen in preparation for his fight against former UFC champion Mark HuntCredit:Louis Bockos

Williams is due to face Gallen’s last opponent, Barry Hall, at some stage in the summer. After years of calling out SBW, the former Cronulla Sharks captain is resigned to the fact the anticipated showdown with Williams won’t happen.

“But who cares, I’ve got Mark Hunt,” Gallen said. “As Sonny said six months ago or whenever he said it, I’ve got to worry about Mark Hunt.

“That’s all I’m worried about, I’m not concerned about anything else. Mark Hunt is the only person on my mind.

“If I get that done, we’ll worry about who’s next after that.”

There have also been countless obstacles in getting the Gallen-Hunt fight to eventuate. Gallen said it was initially difficult to find heavyweights to spar against as many potential training partners refused due to their ties to Hunt.

Gallen also suffered a biceps injury that threatened to derail the bout, although it will proceed as scheduled on December 16 at Bankwest Stadium as part of a co-main event alongside Tim Tszyu’s fight with New Zealander Bowyn Morgan.

Hunt has commenced the trash talk as the fight approaches, but Gallen remains unfazed.

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“I’ve been around big, tough guys who talk shit for 20 years and I’m still here,” he said. “I’ll still be here after this fight – win, lose or draw.

“Worst case scenario, I get beaten by Mark Hunt, a bloke who says he’s fought the best for 20 years.

“It’s not a real blemish on me. Nobody else is prepared to get into the ring with him.

“He should be thanking me. Talking about his lawsuits [against the UFC] and that sort of crap, he needs the money.

“There is no one else in Australia that can provide this sort of money. He should be thanking me.”

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