And the Hammer Comes Down

Filed in Other by on February 2, 2011

If there is one person you do not want to be right now, it is probably Ryan Tandy. There is a category five cyclone about to smash the North Queensland coast and that is about the force of the shit-storm that has just hit Ryan Tandy’s life.

Tandy was arrested on Wednesday morning, taken to the City Central police station and charged with making false statements to investigators looking into an alleged betting rort in the Canterbury-North Queensland match last season.

The charge carries a maximum five-year prison term.

An insanely disproportionate amount of money was wagered on the first scoring play of the meaningless affair being a North Queensland penalty goal. In the rarely bet on market, bookmakers stood to officially lose over $300,000 on the betting option with some bookmakers winding a Cowboys penalty in from $13 to $3 before suspending markets in what was an astonishing plunge in both its size and nature. There is no telling how much illegal bookmakers stood to lose. The smart money would say significantly more.

Tandy spent four hours with police only days after being interviewed by the all-powerful NSW Crime Commission. Tandy has always been central to the investigation. Rumours swirled about his connections and circumstantial evidence certainly does not bode well for Tandy, who, if you were a betting man, would say has probably played his last match in the NRL.

Tandy strenuously denies any untoward involvement in what was certainly a suspicious plunge and Making The Nut certainly does not make any accusations against the Canterbury prop.

Tandy’s involvement early in the said match was blundering at best, however, with the under-fire prop dropping the ball during the first play-the-ball before giving away the most obvious penalty of the season. Regardless of his involvement, if any, he was under suspicion immediately after those two plays that simply do not look good. Hell, Bea Arthur on a bad hair day looks better.

His connection with a player manager allegedly filmed wagering on the match, an act that is completely legal, has not helped his cause.

I doubt this is going to end well for anyone in rugby league. Betting scandals are the scourge of sport and have done plenty of damage to baseball and boxing, cricket and soccer.

The scope of the investigation and the tone of the lead police officer suggest this is a long way from over. The police can smell blood and they are going, rightfully, in for the kill, well aware of how important the legitimacy of the NRL is to the citizens of New South Wales and Queensland. This isn’t going to fizzle out. Tandy will have his day in court and may well find himself in prison.

There are plenty of others both inside and outside the game who would surely be sweating profusely right now. If the rort was on, it would take more than one player and more than one person. One player involved in the game has been linked to previous suspicious betting activities while another is reportedly, hearsay has it, is well known in betting circles. There is no evidence to suggest either were involved. That amount of money is not laid down on that bet type on a whim or on the back of someone having a simple punt though.

Those with a guilty conscience and those without the right connections should rightly fear the reaper knocking.

Canterbury are certainly losers out of this. Tandy, for all this strife, is a pretty handy front-rower who offered the Bulldogs plenty since transferring from Melbourne. They will likely lose a nice player and a replacement of his ilk is not easy to come by. Bringing back Jarrad Hickey certainly isn’t what those in the business of negotiation would call a fair swap.

A confirmed betting rort would also do plenty of damage to the NRL brand. Not only does it reduce the trust many have in the legitimacy of the sport, it forces the spotlight back on the administration who have done nothing when faced with similar alleged rorts over the previous years. Heads have been buried in the sand for so long that it is clear plenty of people believe they can pull a rort off and get away with it. That, to use a Phil Gould-ism, simply isn’t good enough.

The NRL could go some way to making amends by bringing the hammer down hard on anyone found to have been involved, laying the law down and dishing out life bans. It does not absolve those who have allowed such rot to go on unpunished though. Sure it is hard to police, sure it is difficult to get people to speak but moves could be made. Does the NRL have a betting commissioner? That would be a decent start.

The next few weeks are not going to be good. For Ryan Tandy, for those with guilty consciences, for rugby league as a whole. The only good that can come from this mess is a heady precedent and The Fear that will look down on anyone trying to pull a swift one on a rugby league game ever again.

Thanks to Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images AsiaPac for the use of the photo


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  1. Keyboard Rambo says:

    Excellent article.

    Of course, Tandy entitled to due process, but should he be proved gulity beyond reasonable doubt then this type of  crime should be treated for what it is; large-scale robbery . Personally I hope they weed-out each and every grub who was involved in this and string em up by the gonads.