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Caitlin Moran shouldn’t be punished for having an opinion but NRL bans Jillaroos back for Queen post




Personally, I love the Queen.

She stood for stability, nobility and impartiality in power, and handled her role with grace, tact and duty that few others could.

She’s far and away one of the role models I admire in the 21st Century, purely because she placed the public good above her own self in many respects.

But I can, as a monarchist, respect those who have different views. And in the vein of free speech, I’ll die defending the right for someone to have an opinion, even if that opinion is something I find dumb or reprehensible.

That’s why the rugby league journalist pile-on of Caitlin Moran makes me so uncomfortable.

Moran made some (now deleted) comments about the Queen. She did so in what I would call poor taste. Dancing on the grave of someone is never what you would call classy, nor is it the standard we should aspire to.

But even more revolting were the calls by Ray Hadley, Phil Rothfield and co. to ban Moran for speaking her mind.

The NRL announced on Tuesday they planned on banning Moran for one match, which equates to one-fifth of the NRLW season. The former Jillaroos back becomes the first women’s player to be banned for an off-field matter in the NRLW’s history.

The Indigenous Knights star also received a suspended fine of 25 per cent of her salary and forced to undergo education and training around the appropriate use of social media.

Moran’s opinion on the Queen has nothing to do with her ability as a player. It has little to nothing to do with the reputation of the game (anyone who thinks it does needs their head read).

Here’s what the line should be: players should be able to have political opinions without being censored by the game.

Caitlin Moran runs the ball during the 2017 Women's Rugby League World Cup.

Caitlin Moran runs the ball during the 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Rugby league isn’t political. It shouldn’t have views as to blind loyalty for political angles, nor should it have political values ascribed to it. Players should be free to hold opinions whether they be good, bad or ugly if they do so personally.

Too often we get involved in the business of telling people what to think rather than recognising that just because you play a game of football, you shouldn’t have to think a certain way.

The NRL statement said: “Rugby league is an inclusive game and has a proud and strong relationship with many communities.

“Regardless of any personal views, all players and officials must adhere to the professional standards expected of them and on this occasion the public comments made by the player have caused damage to the game.”

Moran was not named in the Newcastle team to face St George Illawarra this weekend with Tamika Upton returning at fullback.

Nothing she did impacted a game of rugby league, nor a rugby league player. To say she brought the game into disrepute isn’t just mad, it’s sad. Sad politicking of our game when there needn’t be politics.

While it’s been a sad week for the monarchy, it’s an even sadder week for rugby league when we introduce politics over people.

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