Rugby League did nothing wrong by Ryan Tandy, writes Greg Cary.
The NRL receives – and deserves- a great deal of criticism. They are too often reactive to circumstances and seem more intent on trees than forests.
That being said the suggestion that they somehow should accept a degree of responsibility for the premature and tragic death of Ryan Tandy is as misguided as the behaviour that saw Tandy receive a lifetime suspension.
His role in an attempt to manipulate a game between Canterbury and North Queensland has been well documented, although there will be many who sense the full story has not yet emerged. The League had no choice other than to do what they did.
No organisation can fight a war against those seeking to corrupt and undermine it without handing out severe punishments. There are certain behaviours that should end careers and, in sport, fixing games is the worst of sins.
Nobody seriously questioned the penalty then but, as news broke of Ryan’s death, some close to him said he had been cast adrift. Emotions were raw and sentiments high but the logic was as flawed as the allegation.
If there is a recent comparison with Tandy’s disqualification it would be the sentence handed down to Brian Waldron, the Storm chief executive who systematically cheated the salary cap (and every other team in the competition) by keeping two sets of books and distributing over four million “illegal” dollars to players who his team would otherwise have lost.
That nobody in responsible positions ever sensed a possible problem remains something of a mystery and Sgt Schultz comes to mind. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
When the fraud was uncovered, however, Melbourne was stripped of two premierships and the CEO banished. Waldron has now apologised but, like his claims of innocence at the time, it all rings a bit hollow. He has no place in the game. Ever.
Society is belatedly taking a hard stance against those who use their positions to enrich themselves personally or financially by corrupting others – whether it’s political operatives as identified at ICAC, or priests and teachers who have abused their position to prey on children.
People are increasingly losing respect for those institutions that do not place a premium on integrity and are not consistent with the values they profess to reflect.
Rugby League did nothing wrong by Ryan Tandy. Through his own behaviour he became vulnerable to those who cynically care about nothing other than making an easy dollar. That he succumbed was his decision but the NRL had every right to protect its own values. Indeed would’ve been negligent had it not.
The death of a young person is always tragic - the new dawn always brings hopes of better things. But there is another tragedy here as well. Ryan Tandy is the only person convicted of having fixed a Rugby League game. It is a unique and damning epitaph that does not reflect reality and is, in its own way, unfair.
He did the wrong thing, was found out and paid a heavy price. Many others will be thanking their lucky stars they were never caught.
It has been argued that Rugby League is impossible to rig. Wrong – it’s one of the easiest. More on that next time.