Former Australian rugby international David Campese apologises after causing a Twitter storm by suggesting women should not be writing about the sport.
Campese, 50, who won 101 caps for his country as a full-back and winger, has become a controversial commentator since his retirement.
His tweet, which he later deleted, was a comment on the Sydney Morning Herald’s appointment of Georgina Robinson to replace their long-standing rugby correspondent Greg Growden, who took redundancy earlier this year:
“Why does the smh get a girl to write about rugby. Growden who was a great jornio and now we have someone who has no idea about the game!”
It has provoked fury among the rugby community.
David Pocock, the current Australia flanker and stand-in captain wrote on Twitter: “Really sad to see journos attacked based on their gender. Or a grown woman referred to as a “girl” #destroyingthejoint.”
— David Pocock (@pocockdavid) November 27, 2012
Former England international and BBC commentator Brian Moore added sarcastically: “Don’t knock Campo, to be fair he fell in love with himself early and has been faithful ever since.”
Former Australia winger Wendell Sailor also waded in, writing: “Well good morning to u Campo & I have to say r are on ur own with this comment it’s 2012 champ.”
Even Australia’s sports minister Kate Lundy took to Twitter to voice her displeasure, posting: “Female players, mums, sisters, partners of rugby players, in fact everyone expects better from DavidCampese11.”
Georgina Robinson is covering Australia’s current tour of Europe.
Campese later tried to clarify his tweet writing. “I was trying to say is that the coach is under pressure and sometimes males give it to the coach as some females go a lot easier on them.”
He added: “Maybe next time I will think about the words before I write it… I am sorry for the comment.”
But the row wouldn’t go away so he later posted an article on the website The Roar attempting to explain what he meant by his earlier comments.
“… I felt that with the Wallabies struggling – Deans has not done the job for Australia – we needed someone like (former Fairfax rugby writer) Greg Growden to get stuck into the real issues,” Campese wrote.
“My wording wasn’t the greatest and people take offence against these things. I do apologise.
“But my point was that if we had someone over in Europe covering the Wallabies who’d been in the job for longer, like Growden, then we’d have had a tougher line in the article. We need this.
” … Deans isn’t doing the job. We need someone else to lead the Wallabies forward.
“Using the term ‘girl’ in the tweet wasn’t the greatest, I accept that. I was getting at the need for someone with more experience. A journo who has been in the job longer would have gone a lot harder – that’s my point.”
The owners of the Sydney Morning Herald were quick to come to the defence of their reporter.
Ian Fuge, managing editor of sport for Fairfax Media said he was “staggered that anyone would criticise any sports reporter because of their gender.
“Georgina wasn’t chosen for the rugby writer’s role on the basis of her gender and neither should her work be judged as such. She is a fine rugby reporter – already up there with the best.”
Don’t knock Campo, to be fair – he fell in love with himself early and has been faithful ever since.
— Brian Moore (@brianmoore666) November 28, 2012