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7 May, 2020 12:06

Anti-vaxxer victory in Aussie sport as rugby league backtracks on mandatory jabs

Anti-vaxxer victory in Aussie sport as rugby league backtracks on mandatory jabs

Australia's National Rugby League (NRL) has been forced into a U-turn on a 'no jab, no play' biosecurity policy ahead of the resumption of the 2020 season, after high-profile resistance from a number of players.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has advocated a plan for the league to adopt stringent health tests after some players within the league had voiced their discontent after being compelled to receive the common flu jab.

This plan received backing on Wednesday from the league, who were reportedly on the verge of implementing a policy which prohibited unvaccinated players from taking to the field following Morrison's statement.

However, this came unstuck just a day later following a meeting between the NRL and the Rugby League Players' Association, where players who refused to take vaccinations were given the right to play despite falling outside of the league's accepted health and safety requirements.

Also on rt.com 'The pandemic is a SCAM': Aussie rugby wife behind anti-vaxx workshops BLASTS 'dehumanizing & degrading' row over compulsory jabs

It had emerged that at least two NRL players, including Gold Coast star Bryce Cartwright, had refused to take the flu shot. Josh Papalii of the Canberra Raiders also declined, citing religious reasons. 

Cartwright's wife Shanelle defended her family's right to refuse vaccinations in a series of Instagram posts this week, while Taylor Winterstein, wife of former Bulldogs and Penrith star Frank Winterstein said that the coroanvirus pandemic is a "scam" and hit out at people who "constantly slander" the anti-vax community. 

Cartwright also reportedly refused to sign a legal waiver which would have allowed them to continue training with his team due to a line in the contract which stated that they were at a higher risk of contracting the flu if they refused the vaccination.

An accord was struck, though, when the league said they would allow anti-vax players to compete if they sign an updated waiver. 

"The is only one clause in there we are going to change because of their religious grounds, which we have no problem with," Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’Landys said. "We will change that clause but anyone who doesn’t sign the waiver, will not be allowed to play."

In a statement detailing the discussions between the league and the players' representative groups, the NRL said that the vast majority of players in the league are willing to adhere to the vaccination protocols. 

Also on rt.com Rafael Nadal warns anti-vaxxer Novak Djokovic MUST get coronavirus jab if required for top-level tennis

"The National Rugby League has developed stringent biosecurity protocols that adhere to higher standards than public health orders,” the NRL media release stated. "These protocols have been reaffirmed to clubs and players today, including the requirement for flu vaccinations for all players and staff.

"The protocols allow for exemptions to vaccinations under compelling circumstances, including requiring players to sign a release. Until an NRL-approved release is acknowledged and signed by players, they will not be permitted to train."

Cartwright himself has reject the "anti-vaxxer" label, stating: “Not once have I said I am anti-vaccinations.

“I’ve never claimed to be a doctor or a medical professional and I have never told anyone what they should or shouldn’t do in regards to vaccinations.

“I stand for freedom to choose what goes into our bodies, I am pro-choice, pro-informed consent and pro-medical freedom.

“I have nothing against people who choose to vaccinate … so to label me an ‘anti-vaxxer’ is spreading misinformation.”

The disagreements between the league and some of its players raises further questions about potential backlash to plans if and when a coronavirus vaccine is developed, and whether league bodies will have the authority to mandate that it be distributed among players.

Also on rt.com Give the guy a break: You may not like Djokovic's anti-vaxx views, but he has a right to voice them

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