NRL hands down brutal $305k punishment over Dragons' virus breach

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Paul Vaughan hosted a party for teammates at his home, and has been banned for eight games and fined $50,000 for his trouble.
Dragons player Paul Vaughan has been banned for eight games and fined $50,000 by the NRL for hosting a party for teammates at his Shellharbour home in breach of public health orders. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The NRL has smashed St George Illawarra players with a combined 20 games in bans and $305,000 in fines for a team barbecue that broke stay-at-home orders.

As part of a long list of heavy of sanctions, Paul Vaughan's regular NRL season is over after he was handed an eight-game ban and a $50,000 fine for hosting the party.

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All other players involved have been issued with one-game suspensions and varying fines, with the bans to be served over the next month.

The NRL said the punishment also took into account that information was withheld from the sport's governing body after it emerged only on Monday that Jack de Belin also attended the party.

De Belin was one of the hardest players hit as he copped a $42,000 fine from the league, while Corey Norman's financial penalty sat at $50,000.

"In our view the actions of the players were deliberate and some of the players withheld key information from the Integrity Unit,'' NRL boss Andrew Abdo said.

"On the information we have, the players understood the protocols and deliberately chose to ignore them.

"They chose to risk the continuity of our competition.

"The sanctions handed down today puts every player in the game on notice, particularly repeat offenders - this sort of conduct will not be tolerated."

The Dragons are expected to support the bans, with the club frustrated over the behaviour of the players.

Dragons handed heavy sanction by NRL over Covid breach

In a bid to save the club from fielding a reserve grade team, each of the players' one-game bans can be split across multiple rounds of the NRL.

Nevertheless, it is likely to have a significant impact on their finals run with Josh McGuire, Jack Bird, Matt Dufty and Zac Lomax among other the high-profile players caught up in the scandal.

NSW Police issued $1000 fines to each of the players.

It comes as NRL bosses are attempting to keep the game going despite coronavirus outbreaks across the country closing state borders.

The criticism of the playing group reached their own union on Monday.

Rugby League Players' Association' chief executive Clint Newton says they have let their fellow players down.

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"This incident doesn't meet our expectations given what is at stake," Newton said.

"It is disappointing for the clear majority of players who have done, and are continuing to do, a tremendous job adhering to strict biosecurity protocols.

"We saw those sacrifices last year from the playing group, including the players involved, to keep the competition alive and we are seeing them again from the vast majority.

"Mistakes have been made by this group and there's no shying away from that."

LIST OF NRL FINES FOR ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA PLAYERS

Paul Vaughan - $50,000

Corey Norman - $50,000

Jack de Belin - $42,000

Zac Lomax - $31,000

Jack Bird - $25,000

Matt Dufty - $23,000

Blake Lawry - $20,000

Josh Kerry - $18,000

Daniel Alvaro - $15,000

Josh McGuire - $12,000

Tyrell Fuimaono - $12,000

Kaide Ellis - $5000

Gerard Beale - $2000

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