Dragons terminate Paul Vaughan’s contract after lockdown party scandal

The St George Illawarra Dragons have terminated the contract of prop Paul Vaughan for his breach of NRL biosecurity guidelines, and handed out more fines to the 12 teammates he hosted at his house on the weekend.

The league had already fined Vaughan $50,000 and banned him for eight matches for hosting a party at his Shellharbour home on Saturday night during the COVID-19 lockdown, breaching NRL and NSW government rules.

Twelve other Dragons players attended and were fined $1,000 each by NSW Police, with further fines from the NRL ranging from $2,000 to $50,000.

Vaughan was contracted until the end of 2022 but the Dragons board decided at a meeting on Tuesday to release him early “as a result of now a number of breaches that include and predate the current matter”.

Vaughan was also fined $10,000 for breaking the NRL’s biosecurity rules last year by going to an Illawarra cafe while he was supposed to be in a bubble.

The board decided to fine the 12 other Dragons players at the party an undisclosed amount that the club said would be donated to various charities.

“The board haven’t taken any of the 13 players’ actions lightly and reinforced this on Tuesday morning by taking these additional actions including the termination of Paul Vaughan’s contract,” Dragons chief executive Ryan Webb said.

“The club maintains it holds no reservations over the punishments already handed down by the NRL Integrity Unit and New South Wales Police.

“These additional penalties have been determined in such a way that the beneficiaries will be those affected by the players’ misconduct.”

Webb on Monday night said the 13 players’ “arrogance and ignorance” was “upsetting and infuriating”, adding that there was no excuse for not knowing the rules.

“Every member of the club’s Apollo register were communicated their responsibilities and limitations under level four protocols on numerous occasions,” Webb said in a statement.

“All 13 players have let the rest of their teammates, the entirety of our hardworking staff, their families, the wider community and most importantly our Red V members, partners and fans down.

“The entire club and our stakeholders will now be punished as a result of the combined 20-week suspension procured between the 13 players.”

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