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December 18 , 2010

The Penalty

The inside story of Ryan Tandy and rugby league's most notorious match-fixing scandal


When NRL also-rans Canterbury and North Queensland met in August 2010, there appeared to be little at stake. Appearances can be deceptive. In the lead-up to the game, more than 30,000 was bet on North Queensland to open the scoring with a penalty goal. This was a plunge without peer; both brazen and bizarre. Bookmakers were so spooked they suspended markets before kick-off. But the potential damage had been done. The bagmen watched the opening minute in a sickened trance, as North Queensland received the ball – and then a penalty – in perfect kicking range.
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The opportunity came courtesy of Canterbury prop forward Ryan Tandy. Deep in debt at the time, Tandy was also at the centre of a compelling web of wagers. His flatmate, real estate agent, and manager all stood to profit from his actions. Only the pure unpredictability of sport stopped them from earning a major collect.

While the punters walked away empty-handed, Tandy was placed in handcuffs soon afterwards. He would become the first person to be convicted for match-fixing in Australian history; a burden too heavy for one man to bear as Tandy's tragic and untimely death in April 2014 showed.

Yet behind the sensational headlines, little is known about the real Ryan Tandy, the real story behind the match-fixing episode, or the police investigation that claimed his scalp. Senior News Corp sports reporter Josh Massoud spent three years reconstructing the events to deliver this gripping account from the darkest and most hidden recesses of Australian sport.
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