A NSW rugby league club has been ordered to destroy its end of season footy trip shirts following outcry over an offensive phrase on the top.

Group 3 rugby league club Old Bar Beach Pirates, from the NSW Mid-North Coast, has confirmed its players are facing disciplinary action when they return from their end-of-season holiday after a backlash on social media forced the league to take action immediately.

A group of around 20 men were pictured at Newcastle Airport sporting the offensive shirts, which included a naked cartoon mermaid and the phrase "'Rape and pillage Tour".

NSW Country Rugby League officials took swift action on Friday announcing the players will be disciplined following an investigation.


The Old Bar club is expected to escape sanction because the club was not involved in the players' end-of-season trip and had no knowledge of the plan to print offensive shirts for the group holiday.

CRL Chief Executive Officer Terry Quinn released a statement on Friday, announcing the players involved will be "sanctioned accordingly".

"The behaviour of these persons is inexcusable and it is extremely disappointing," Quinn said.

"The Old Bar Club denies having any involvement in producing the T-shirts, which was an action of individuals.

"We have been in contact with the club and the individuals have been instructed to destroy the T-shirts immediately.

"The club is part of the Tackling Violence program and is taking this matter very seriously.

"Once we find out the names of these said individuals they will be sanctioned accordingly."

The T-shirts were widely condemned on social media, led by Channel 9 commentator Peter FitzSimons.


In response to the outcry, Old Bar Beach Pirates Rugby League Football Club released a statement to claim the players did not receive permission to print the shirts.

"The Old Bar Beach Pirates Rugby League Club have been made aware of the issue surrounding T-shirts being worn at Newcastle Airport," the club said in a statement posted to its Facebook page.

"The Old Bar Beach Pirates Rugby League Club did not sanction these Shirts.

"As a Club we endeavour to support and promote a strong Anti Violence message, as well as support Women in League and our community.

"The Pirates have been in contact with the Country Rugby League (CRL) and will be working cooperatively with them and support their stance on this issue."