Questions remain for Cardiff and WRU over Cory Hill incident

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The news that has broken this week regarding Cory Hill’s behaviour back in May, when he damaged a woman’s home and left her and her children terrified, has rightly brought strong reactions on social media.

BBC Wales News have reported that the former Cardiff and Wales player, now at the Yokohama Cannon Eagles, was part of a group of three men who arrived at the woman’s home while intoxicated during the early hours of the morning and set about throwing glass bottles at the windows and banging repeatedly on the door.

The victim, who was at home with her two young children, told the BBC that she believed “something really horrific was going to happen” and that she feared “somebody was coming to kill us”. Both herself and her children are suffering with ongoing physical and mental impacts.

It subsequently transpired that it was a case of mistaken identity and the wrong house was visited by the men. No explanation has been provided in regards to which house was meant to be visited and why the men were throwing glass bottles at it as well as banging on the door, although allegedly it was related to unpaid rent on a house owned by Hill.

On the back of the report there are rightly questions raised in regards to Hill personally, as well as South Wales Police’s handling of the incident with accusations that it was swept under the carpet due to the player’s status as a senior Wales international. These are part of an investigation by the force’s Professional Standards department.

However, I have questions for Cardiff Rugby and the Welsh Rugby Union over their handling of the incident and their subsequent treatment of Cory Hill.

In the news report, Cardiff are quoted as saying “a full internal investigation took place. The player in question is no longer an employee of Cardiff Rugby. However, as you will appreciate, we cannot and do not comment publicly on internal employment matters.” This was followed up by the WRU adding “the matter had been investigated by Cardiff Rugby as a disciplinary matter, and it endorsed the club’s response.”

Now that is simply not good enough. As a professional rugby club they should be clearly demonstrating that it’s core values and culture do not tolerate this sort of behaviour, both to other players and members of staff, to supporters and, crucially, to youngsters who support the club and idolise its players.

This is particularly prevalent in terms of setting an example to young lads in and around the area against the backdrop of the recent focus on male violence towards women after the horrific murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

To almost come across as brushing the incident off as an internal investigation has already taken place and Hill no longer plays for us does not go any way towards instilling confidence that the club’s response was appropriate. Instead they need to come out and look at clarifying a number of things.

I understand there are legalities around revealing exact details of punishments, but I think there’s a particular question over when Cardiff and the WRU were made aware of the incident involving Hill. The WalesOnline report states that it took place on 29th May, yet he would go on to be selected to play for the club the following weekend against Zebre on 5th June.

The Wales national team then selected Hill to be part of the summer squad on 7th June.

If both Cardiff and the WRU were aware that Hill had been involved in the incident they need to then clarify when their investigation took place and how long it took, what interim measures were imposed on the player and what sort of punishment, if any, was subsequently handed out, as continuing to select him throughout that time is not a good look.

Cardiff also need to clarify whether any other players or members of staff were involved in the incident, and if so what sort of punishment has been handed out to them.

Finally, there should be some learning around the communication of these incidents and being pro-active in taking a stand to ensure the values and culture of the club are upheld. I appreciate it is a fine balancing act between legal matters, police investigations and respecting the private lives of players, but for this to leak out some months later does not reflect particularly well on Cardiff Rugby.

No one person is bigger than the club.

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