THE Scottish Rugby Union and Edinburgh Rugby have both declined to comment on a story reporting that John Hardie’s suspension from club and country is due to alleged cocaine use, which appeared in a national broadsheet publication this morning [Sunday].
The governing body issued a statement early Friday evening which explained that the player would not be selected for Edinburgh or the national team pending an internal investigation, but gave no indication of what precisely had prompted this course of action.
Respected rugby journalist Mark Palmer reported on the front page of the sports section of this morning’s Sunday Times that he: “understands that alleged cocaine use is behind the decision to suspend John Hardie”.
“It is understood that the 29-year-old flanker has not failed a drugs test, with his employers therefore taking a proactive stance,” he added.
Palmer explained that the SRU and Edinburgh had refused to comment on the story before publication, and they continued with that stance when contacted by The Offside Line this morning.
Hardie is the second high-profile Edinburgh back-row player to be suspended in as many weeks, following club captain Magnus Bradbury being frozen out while an investigation is conducted into a late night fall which left the player concussed and unavailable for selection.
Club head coach Richard Cockerill is clearly irritated by these issues but managed to keep his team focussed enough on the job in hand to run in 10 tries in a 73-14 victory over Russian side Krasny Yar yesterday lunchtime, which puts them top of their Challenge Cup pool after two games with a maximum number of possible points accumulated.
“I am not going to comment on John Hardie but what I do know is that I will run a strong culture and we will deal with those situations as they come along,” Cockerill explained to the Sunday Times, after the game. “My job is to make this a strong, robust environment and we will continue to do that. That will continue.”
“I have dealt with situations at previous clubs around players getting themselves into situations and I will deal with it as I see fit. I make it very clear that I want an honest and robust environment and people who want to be part of that.”
Blair Kinghorn and Murray McCallum scored two tries each in Moscow, while Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Lewis Cramichael, Neil Cochrane, Fraser McKenzie and Stuart McInally also crossed the whitewash for the capital outfit in yesterday’s match. The other score was a penalty try.
“At times it was not perfect but when we were on our mettle there was some outstanding rugby there, some outstanding defence as well,” concluded Cockerill.