Guests say they took offence at sports dinner speaker's language

Bill Young at the Cowra dinner.

Bill Young at the Cowra dinner.

A Cowra couple, one of whom works in the disability sector, walked out of a sports dinner early on Saturday night after a former Wallaby recounted an on-tour incident involving animal cruelty.

"We left for two reasons," the woman said. "The night was too drawn out but also I work in the disability sector and took offence to the term 'spastic' and also use of the word 'sheila' in a story told by one of the speakers."

The "story" in question was recounted after a Q and A moderator at the Cowra Sportsperson of the Year Awards said to former rugby union international Bill Young: "Someone told me you had a very serious impact off the field, with wildlife perhaps?"

Young launched into a detailed explanation of an incident in South Africa during the Wallabies 2000 Tri-Nations tour.

The onetime international loosehead prop told the crowd he wanted to leave his mark off the field as he wasn't given much opportunity on it.

The presence of six-foot pink flamingos at the Wallabies accommodation afforded Young the chance, he explained.

"The boys geed me up a bit, I had a little bit of experience in country life... knocked around in farms and that."

I said, '[...] I'll get one of those flamingos for sure, no problems'."

Young compared the capture of the bird to a night out on the town, using the term "spastic" during the telling.

He then described the moment, after the distressed bird had stopped struggling and thinking it was dead, he threw it on the lap of then Rugby Australia boss Phil Harry.

"At this stage, thank goodness, well, sort of thank goodness, the bird comes to life and it goes berserk," Young told the crowd.

"Don't mess with flamingos in Africa."

He said the then Wallabies assistant coach Ewen McKenzie advised him to keep the incident quiet.

Young, who made his Test debut against France that spring tour, went on to play 46 times for the green and gold, including the 2003 World Cup final.

The dinner guest who left said she knew of others on the couple's table who were of the same view of the language used.

"I think the mood was shared throughout the room, he offended people," she said.

"It was not appropriate with so many children in attendance, they did not need to be reminded of derogatory terms from the 1970s and 1980s about women and people with a disability."

Rugby Australia has been asked for comment.