Rugby union: Wallaby Beale on 'last chance' after fines

Wallabies rugby union player Kurtley Beale (left) arrives at the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) headquarters in Sydney for a ARU code of conduct hearing on Oct 24, 2014. Troubled Australia back Kurtley Beale has been issued with a last-chance warn
Wallabies rugby union player Kurtley Beale (left) arrives at the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) headquarters in Sydney for a ARU code of conduct hearing on Oct 24, 2014. Troubled Australia back Kurtley Beale has been issued with a last-chance warning after receiving a further fine arising from a mid-flight row with team officials, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said on Friday. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Troubled Australia back Kurtley Beale has been issued with a last-chance warning after receiving a further fine arising from a mid-flight row with team officials, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said on Friday.

Beale was fined A$3,000 (S$3,380) for being rude and disrespectful to Wallaby team management on a flight from South Africa to Argentina last month.

The sanction comes a week after Beale was slapped with an A$45,000 penalty for sending an offensive text message to team business manager Di Patston.

The Beale affair has been damaging to Australian rugby, with Ewen McKenzie abruptly quitting as coach after speculation over internal dissent and his relationship with Patston.

Patston also resigned, citing stress, and she later said the controversy had driven her to contemplate suicide.

Michael Cheika was rushed in to replace McKenzie before the Wallabies departed for their European tour and he will take charge of his first game for Australia when they face the Barbarians in London on Saturday.

ARU chief Bill Pulver, himself under pressure for his handling of the saga, said his organisation would resume contract negotiations with Beale and hoped the fallen star would return to being "a wonderful asset to our game".

But he sounded a warning that Beale, who previously wrestled with alcohol problems, was on notice for the final time.

"He's had a lot of chances and I'm pretty certain Kurtley is going to be very focused on behaviours that are consistent with our core values," Pulver told reporters.

"The Kurtley Beale I want in Australian rugby is the one who has excited rugby fans for many years, just a great indigenous rugby player and important part of the fabric of our game.

"But most importantly one (who) constantly adheres to the behaviours consistent to the core values of the game, and I am pretty confident that's what we're going to see from Kurtley from here on."

Beale's 47-Test career has been blighted by a succession of off-field indiscretions dating back to 2007.

In total, he has been fined A$94,500 for five separate incidents, including drink driving, urinating outside a nightclub and last year for an alcohol-fuelled punch-up with two Melbourne Rebels team-mates on a Super Rugby tour of South Africa.

Beale, 25, has also endured multiple suspensions and been forced to undergo counselling and rehabilitation for alcohol-related issues.

One newspaper has described the embarrassing saga as Australian rugby's "greatest day of shame", with the ARU condemned for its handling of the controversy and accused of inaction.

"The ARU is deeply disappointed that an offensive text message was sent, the in-flight incident occurred and the aftermath of these events were factors in the resignations of Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie and business manager Di Patston," ARU chairman Michael Hawker said in a statement.

"There is no basis on which it was acceptable for Ms Patston to have been subjected to the offensive text message."

Hawker added: "There has been significant public debate about these offences and significant criticism of the ARU's management of the issues.

"We have carefully investigated the offences, evaluated all available evidence and applied proper process to ensure that the judgments have been arrived at fairly and impartially."

Pulver said on Friday he wants to stay and lead Australian rugby out of its current turmoil - but added that his future was not in his hands. "I do want to be the man to lead Australian rugby forward," he told Fox Sports.

"The decision on whether I am, really resides with my board of directors. I'm happy to have that issue in their hands."