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Australian Rugby Union Investigates O’Connor Airport Incident

The Australian Rugby Union said it’s investigating an alleged incident in which Wallabies back James O’Connor was reported to have been escorted out of an airport terminal by police after being barred from a flight because he was intoxicated.

O’Connor, 23, wasn’t allowed to board a Sept. 15 flight from Perth International Airport to Bali after Australia’s win against Argentina the previous day and was escorted from the terminal by Australian Federal Police officers, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday, citing a police statement.

The ARU said in an e-mailed statement today it had begun an investigation even though the Sydney-based governing body “had not received any formal notification, complaints or reports from police, airline or security officials.”

O’Connor, who’s played 44 Tests for Australia, told the ARU from Bali that he had been involved in a dispute over seating arrangements at the gate, which led to him and his girlfriend being taken back through customs to rebook seats on a later flight, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported. O’Connor, who is on vacation, wasn’t immediately available for comment, a spokesman for the ARU said.

The incident comes two weeks after O’Connor, who made his Australia debut in 2008 at age 18, pledged to improve his behavioral standards following a series of disciplinary issues.

In 2011, he was suspended for a Test match for sleeping through a World Cup squad announcement and was reprimanded in June after being photographed in a fast-food restaurant at 4 a.m. three days before the second Test against the British and Irish Lions. A week later he missed the team bus for a training session in the leadup to the final game against the Lions.

O’Connor, who’s currently without a Super Rugby club after being released by the Melbourne Rebels in July, was two days ago included in a 28-man Wallabies squad for its two-match Rugby Championship tour of South Africa and Argentina.

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