• Boomanulla Raiders secretary Esma Livermore is calling for an apology for racist comments targeting her players at a game against the Harden Worhawks. (Esma Livermore)Source: Esma Livermore
The Canberra Regional Rugby League found the Harden Hawks breached the NRL Code of Conduct by failing to remove spectators who were yelling racist slurs at female Indigenous players from Boomanulla.
Nadine Silva

13 Sep 2021 - 1:51 PM  UPDATED 14 Sep 2021 - 12:41 PM

Canberra's Boomanulla Raiders Rugby League team wants more accountability after the Harden Hawks Football Club received what they say was a “light punishment” for racist comments targeting their women’s team.

The Canberra Regional Rugby League (CRRL) found Harden had breached the NRL Code of Conduct by failing to remove the spectators who were yelling racist slurs during the match on July 31.

The Hawks will have to undergo compulsory cultural awareness training, and face a fine of $2000 if they’re found responsible for another incident of a similar nature in the next two years.

Bigambul woman and Raiders secretary Esma Livermore said that is not enough.

“We would have liked to have seen Harden be told that they must make a public apology to our club and players,” Ms Livermore told NITV News.

“We are happy that something has been done, and it’s probably a first but they really need to penalise these clubs that reflect the TLIL Policy.”

The Tough Love in League Policy states the penalty for ‘unsportsmanlike comments’ from a spectator would deem a match a forfeit to the non-offending team and include a $1000 bond.

The Hawks plead not guilty after being charged over the incident, but it was upheld by the governing bodies' Disciplinary committee following a hearing that involved both clubs.

The CRRL said the charge was "proven and ruled accordingly."

In a statementposted on Facebook, the Hawks said they “did not condone nor encourage the racist comments”, but “must bear the responsibility for the statements”.

“The Harden Hawks Club are deeply sympathetic and apologise to all of those whom have been impacted, however remain disappointed with the finding.”

NITV has reached out to the Hawks for comment.

CRRL General Manager Mark Vergano told NITV News, "the club has been asked to review its game-day procedures and investigate all avenues available to them to ensure no recurrence of such behaviour."

But the hearing also revealed the Raiders weren’t the only victims of racial abuse that day, according to Raiders President Billy Tompkins.

“There was enough reasonable evidence to support that there were spectators present on the day who were shouting racist comments not just at our team, but at players in the game that was played before us in the under 19s competition,” he posted on the Raiders' Facebook page.

Ms Livermore believes that should require stronger penalties.

“The fact that they [Harden] challenged and lost, the outcome should’ve been harsher,” Ms Livermore said.

“There were three incidents and they received a light punishment.”

Mr Tompkins said he hopes their experience would give other First Nations players the confidence to take matters further if they are targeted by racial abuse.

“Although it may seem like this is not a huge penalty, this is a huge win for our club, supporters and the community as it sends a clear message that racism will not be tolerated,” he wrote.

“We thank the Canberra Regional Rugby League, the Disciplinary Hearing Committee, the players from our club and the brave young man from the Gungahlin Bulls Under 19s side for standing up and taking action.”

‘They abused our girls’: Rugby spectators accused of yelling racial slurs at women’s team
The Boomanulla Raiders Club are hoping for accountability after their female players experienced racial abuse at a women's rugby league competition.