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Patston reveals distress over Beale texting affair

‘I’m alive but there have been times I haven’t wanted to be here,’ Di Patson said.

Beale was not included in the Australia squad for the autumn internationals.
Beale was not included in the Australia squad for the autumn internationals.
Image: Rick Rycroft

THE WOMAN AT the centre of the Kurtley Beale texting affair said she had been driven near suicide by the scandal, speaking for the first time Monday as the head of Australian rugby union faced calls to resign over the controversy.

Wallaby back Beale was found guilty of sending an offensive text message to ARU employee Di Patston, and fined $38,500 by an ARU code of conduct tribunal on Friday.

But the tribunal said the evidence could not establish whether a second, more offensive text message and photograph had been sent by Beale, and he avoided suspension and contract termination.

Patston, the team business manager, resigned her position following a heated argument on a team flight from South Africa to Argentina in early October.

She spoke for the first time since her resignation over the drama, and said she had been driven to the brink of suicide by media coverage that had all but destroyed her personal and professional reputations.

She told Monday’s The Australian newspaper she was so distraught when she learned of the tribunal’s findings that she was physically ill.

“If it was one image or two or 20, what does it matter?” she asked. “They were both of very obese women in a very derogatory way. I am overweight and they were both naked with everything exposed.

“I’m not good. Life is probably the worst it has ever been. I’m alive but there have been times I haven’t wanted to be here.”

Rugby’s ‘day of shame’

The damaging fall-out saw Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie abruptly quit a week ago and be replaced by Michael Cheika.

McKenzie was also forced to deny having an intimate relationship with Patston at a tense media conference in the lead-up to his resignation.

Moves to reinstate Beale in the Wallabies touring team in Europe following the tribunal’s verdict were scotched by Cheika, who said there was “no desperation” to include him.

Cheika told travelling Australian media there were no plans to fly Beale to Europe for a five-game tour.

“The first thing he needs to do is go and start training. He’s been under a fair bit of pressure himself so he needs to go back and get in some condition and then we’ll see what happens,” Cheika said at Heathrow Airport.

The Australian daily described the Beale saga as Australian rugby’s “greatest day of shame.”

“And to think that the player who caused it all is gloating that he has been vindicated,” it said.

The Daily Telegraph said the ARU will this week reopen the investigation into Beale’s mid-air argument with Patston that unleashed the drama.

The newspaper also said the affair may now move into the courtroom, with Patston considering legal options.

“Civil proceedings could ultimately be the only way of determining the origin of the mysterious second lewd text message, which was proved to not have come from Beale’s phone during a group WhatsApp exchange,” the newspaper said.

Long-time rugby writer Greg Growden on Monday called for ARU chief Bill Pulver to go.

“The first to depart has to be Pulver. How many more fumbles and stumbles can one sporting CEO make?” Growden wrote on ESPNScrum web-site.

“Pulver is the ARU’s shopfront window, and his never-ending bungling of major issues — the latest involving the Ewen McKenzie-Di Patston-Kurtley Beale fiasco — has turned Australian rugby into a laughing stock.”

 - © AFP, 2014

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