Suspicions were raised when photos emerged of Beale on Friday, around lunch time, at a boat party organised by broadcaster and former Wallabies coach Alan Jones.
At the same time, Beale’s Waratahs teammates were working hard on the training paddock in Daceyville, unaware their star fullback had privately agreed to walk out on the club.
As of Saturday evening, Beale had not told teammates of his decision to jump ship before his contract formally ends in November.
On Friday, the Waratahs said Beale was not at training because he had displayed flu-like symptoms and was told not to come in.
However, pictures published in the Herald suggested Beale wasn’t looking too ill as he boarded a yacht at Rose Bay Wharf with other celebrities including Peta Credlin, Tony Abbott, Mark Latham, Brett Lee and Shane Watson.
Sources said RA and the Waratahs agreed to the release but it is understood there is no animosity between the parties.
NSW Rugby and RA did not want to comment when contacted by the Herald. Sources suggested both parties had wanted to make an announcement next week.
It was agreed Beale would be allowed time to get his body right before a second stint in the northern hemisphere, having previously played for UK club Wasps in 2016.
Beale’s absence leaves a big hole for the Waratahs, who will be desperate to improve after a poor start in Super Rugby this year.
Speaking on a podcast with David Campese this month, Beale said he was looking forward to a new challenge in Paris.
“It’s going to be fun and a new chapter for me with my fiancee,” he said. “It’s important to make sure now we’re giving everything to the Tahs and I still haven’t retired from international rugby, so I’m going to put my hand up 100 per cent. I’m only 31. I still think I have a lot to give to the game.”
In the same podcast, Beale said he couldn’t remember the name of his new coach. “That’s a tough question mate … I don’t know the name of him,” he said.
The comments were picked up in French media and featured in a column written by Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal.
Beale has ambitions of playing for the Wallabies at a fourth World Cup in 2023 but is well back in the pecking order, having missed out on Dave Rennie’s players-of-national-interest squad.
He is still eligible to play for the Wallabies but, without an RA top-up, it appears his Test career is in limbo.
It is unclear whether the request for an early release was related to his recent snubbing.
By Beale’s own admission, his form wasn’t where it needed to be as the Waratahs lost five of their six matches in Super Rugby before the tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Beale has played 162 Super Rugby matches, including 14 for the Melbourne Rebels, and 92 Tests for the Wallabies.
Now he is not taking part in Super Rugby AU, Michael Hooper is the last remaining survivor of the Waratahs’ title-winning team of 2014.
Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald