On Monday, rugby player Gavin Henson was fired by Cardiff Blues following his drunken misbehaviour on a flight back from a game in Glasgow. While the sacking was met with surprise from the rugby community, the Blues seem to be playing within standard HR rules, rather than the ill-defined – or even non-existent – ones that tend to govern sport.
BBC Wales reports that Henson threw ice cubes around the cabin and was refused service by some of the cabin staff. Henson’s former coach at Ospreys, Lyn Jones, has said Henson was being “made an example of” and called the sacking “inexcusable”. And the BBC reports former Wales centre Tom Shanklin as commenting that the incident was “blown out of all proportion”.
But if you or I ever acted like that at work we’d be fired. And here’s the proof: According to HRmanager.co.uk, actions that could be described as gross misconduct may include: i) physical violence; ii) bringing the employer into disrepute and iii) serious incapability whilst on duty brought on by alcohol or illegal drugs.
If the allegations are true – and Henson has apologised for his actions, suggesting at least a degree of culpability – then Henson ticked all of those boxes.
Rugby doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to player discipline – especially when it comes to sanctioning the sport’s stars. But Blues seem to be trying to redress the balance somewhat. Having said that, since picking up an eight-month contract at the club, Henson had not scored a single try there, so it is questionable that he even counts as a star anymore. If he were, maybe Cardiff wouldn’t have been so quick to act – but such a double standard would be inexcusable.
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Image of Gavin Henson courtesy of Flickr