On the eve of the Super Rugby season, Western Force have been dealt a blow to their preparations after Willie Ripia resigned following CCTV evidence confirming allegations that he had been stealing from him team mates.
According to Rugbydump, Ripia had been receiving help from the Force for a gambling problem. On confirmation of the CCTV evidence, they were considering whether to suspend Ripia or tear up his contract, before the former Highlanders and Hurricanes player offered his resignation. Ripia had originally planned to pledge his international allegiance to Australia when he qualified on residency grounds, but this has now been thrown into doubt.
The Force have released the following statement:
“Foreign Developing player Willie Ripia will not be part of the Emirates Western Force squad in 2012 after the club agreed today to accept Ripia’s resignation, effective immediately.
The club has investigated a serious breach of team protocols by the New Zealand born flyhalf and following a meeting this morning with senior management, Ripia offered his resignation later in the day. The club wishes to stress that the matter relates to an internal incident at the club and does not involve any member of the public or public property.
Ripia played seven matches last year with the Emirates Western Force after moving across from the Hurricanes for the 2011 season. Head Coach Richard Graham will review his options over the coming days before making any decisions on the possible recruitment of another playmaker to the club. The Emirates Western Force will be making no further comment on Ripia’s departure at this point.”