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Australian rugby 7s players have hit back in anger a controversial alcohol-fuelled incident on a flight home from the Olympic Games.
Rugby Australia announced on Thursday that some players would be sent for alcohol counselling after the entire sevens squad copped a formal warning for a drunken return flight from the Games.
Some sevens players and rowers got drunk and disobeyed cabin crew on their flight which left Tokyo last Thursday and arrived in Sydney on Friday.
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Members of the team were accused by Japan Airlines staff of drunkenly chanting, singing, disrupting crew and vomiting in their seats and toilets.
However, some of the Aussie players, speaking on a condition of anonymity, angrily denied some of the accusations after arriving home.
“Who cares who f***ing threw up, it’s not World War III?” One player told the Herald Sun.
“People are allowed to be sick, that’s what sick bags are for...If someone was sick, it would not be the first time, who cares?,” the player added before asking: “Why is rugby being dragged through the mud?”
Australia's chef de mission for the Tokyo Games, Ian Chesterman, confirmed that at least one athlete vomited in a toilet, rendering it unusable for the roughly 10-hour duration of the flight.
Another player on the flight said to The Australian: “Well, if you look at where the vomit was, it wasn’t near our seating plan”.
Chesterman admitted earlier in the week that some Australian Olympians left their rooms in an "unacceptable" condition and caused what he termed "minor" damage.
Amid reports that cleaners had to mop up vomit, Chesterman confirmed a hole was left in one wall and that Australia's emu and kangaroo mascots went missing in the athletes' village for several days.
“I’m pretty upset about this because a few people are damaging the reputation of a very strong unit, a unit that is representing us over here very proudly,” Chesterman said.
Rugby Australia (RA) has promised to pay for the damage in a player's room at the athletes' village and detailed the sanctions it has handed down.
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RA's integrity unit investigated the flight and also the room damage.
"The investigation found that a number of members of the team were drinking excessive amounts of alcohol on JAL 51, while also being disruptive to cabin crew and other passengers onboard the flight," RA said in a statement on Thursday.
"There is no evidence that any JAL property was damaged or mess in seats, aisles or bathrooms was made by the men's rugby sevens team.
"All members of men's rugby sevens team have been reprimanded for this behaviour.
"They have also been formally warned about their future conduct.
"Certain team members will also undergo education and counselling sessions regarding behaviour and alcohol consumption."
Australia's men's sevens beat only South Korea in the pool stages before losing to Fiji in a quarter-final.
"Whilst we acknowledge the disappointment experienced through their Olympic campaign as well as the challenging environment all athletes have had to deal with since the start of the pandemic, this is not an excuse for this behaviour," RA chief executive Andy Marinos said.
"Rugby Australia has a zero-tolerance approach towards poor behaviour and expects the highest standards of conduct at all times.
"It is without doubt that this will have a bearing on how we look at the sevens environment going forward."
RA is understood to be on the verge of examining its funding of the sevens program.
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