BITTER Kangaroos coach Ricky Stuart faces disciplinary action after being accused of abusing referee Ashley Klein and "physically and aggressively intimidating" him and a top England official as they were checking out of their hotel the day after New Zealand's shock win in the tournament final.
World Cup officials yesterday launched an investigation after receiving a formal complaint about the behaviour of Stuart, who is alleged to have repeatedly called Klein a "f---ing cheat" as he was preparing to depart for Brisbane Airport with the Rugby Football League's director of referees, Stuart Cummings.
According to reports from England, Cummings attempted to interject but was "manhandled" by Stuart in his attempt to get to Klein. The incident follows an earlier Stuart tirade against Australian Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr on the field just after full-time in Saturday night's match. Stuart, the Herald yesterday revealed, had alleged a conspiracy to boost the international game had led to the Kangaroos' first World Cup final loss in 33 years.
Yesterday the Herald was told Stuart had also abused ARL chairman and tournament director Colin Love in the Australian dressing room after the match, before turning on Klein and Cummings as they got out of a lift at the Holiday Inn at about 12.15pm on Sunday. Stuart is understood to have been in the foyer with his family.
"We have received notice by two employees, Stuart Cummings and Ashley Klein, that they were verbally abused and physically and aggressively intimidated in the foyer of their hotel while in the process of checking out the day after the World Cup final," RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said. "They are currently travelling back to the UK and we will meet with them as soon as possible upon their return."
Stuart's response to the unexpected loss has been, in Keeping Stock's opinion not only a bad case of sour grapes, but greatly disrespectful to the Kiwis who outplayed the Kangaroos, especially in the second half where they were the dominant team. The allegations against him are becoming more serious by the day, and his tenure as coach of the Kangaroos may be a short one.