Ali Williams and James O’Connor’s arrests in Paris at the weekend could have an unexpected silver lining for the last player to get in hot water – Toulon’s Ben Barba.
Last week it was Dan Carter deciding to hit the road after one too many bottles of vin. Now fellow former All Black Ali Williams has become acquainted with the Paris police after he attempted to pick up some cocaine from a local drug dealer.
Williams, along with former Wallaby and Toulon player James O’Connor, looks like he might be in a bit of trouble for hs ill-advised shopping trip. However, he can take comfort in knowing that he’s not the first (and probably not the last) professional rugby or league player to find themselves in such a predicament.
The code-swapping one-time wunderkind found himself signing a deal with the Queensland Reds in 2015. Unfortunately, before the ink was even dry Hunt found himself arrested and charged with four counts of possession with intent to supply relating to incidents the previous year when he was playing AFL with the Gold Coast Suns. Nice work, Scarface.
While Big Dell is mostly remembered for his league career, he was also one of the more successful cross-code converts with 13 tries in 37 tests for the Wallabies. There probably would’ve been a few more had he not tested positive for coke in 2006 while playing for the Waratahs, which led to a two-year suspension from any sport. Sailor was eventually welcomed back to the NRL, where he famously broke a guy’s arm on live TV.
The former England captain probably deserves an asterisk next to his name on this one because he denies actually doing anything wrong. Which, if true, makes his 1999 predicament pretty hilarious because he was caught on tape bragging about how he much he loved getting on the rails on the previous Lions tour to South Africa. His defence was basically that he was set up and tricked into impressing a bunch of undercover journalists he’s never met before, which makes him look like a bit silly really.
Like Sailor, the English prop found himself out of the game for two whole seasons after an ill-advised sniff in 2008. This proved a costly mistake for the Bath player: his club sacked him and he missed out on a spot on the Lions tour to South Africa the following season. Stevens did receive support at the time from Bath captain Michael Lipman, who claimed that “Matt is a popular guy… he’ll be back playing at Bath.” Unfortunately, neither of them did: Lipman himself tested positive for cocaine not long after and got the boot as well. Former Wallaby lock Justin Harrison was also involved in the incident that brought down Lipman, allegedly shouting “it’s OK, everyone’s doing it!” while snorting up at an end of season party.
The most recent addition to the list of guys who can take a bump on or off the field is former Cronulla Sharks fullback Barba. That’s former because they cut him in the offseason for a positive cocaine test, despite playing a big hand in the club’s maiden Premiership. The big irony in his departure is that he’s since signed with Toulon – which means that O’Connor’s aforementioned troubles will most likely open the door for Barba to get on the field for the Top 14 giants a lot sooner than expected. At least this one has a happy ending for someone.
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