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Crusaders, NZ Rugby launch review into 'very serious' allegations

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
Sport,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 21 May 2019, 3:39PM
Crusaders outside back George Bridge, CEO Colin Mansbridge and first-five Richie Mo'unga. Photo / Photosport
Crusaders outside back George Bridge, CEO Colin Mansbridge and first-five Richie Mo'unga. Photo / Photosport

New Zealand Rugby and the Crusaders are jointly reviewing allegations of player misconduct from the Crusaders while on tour in South Africa.

All Black George Bridge is at the centre of an alleged homophobic incident, while Richie Mo'unga has also been accused of spitting beer at a woman in a Cape Town bar and inappropriately touching her, according to a Radio New Zealand report.

NZR Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass today confirmed that enquiries started as soon as staff were alerted by Crusaders management.

"The allegations that have been made about players, in two different incidences, are very serious. These allegations are about abuse, inappropriate and offensive behavior, and we do not tolerate this.

"We have very strong values of respect, inclusion and tolerance in Rugby – there is no place for the type of behavior that has been described.

"At the same time, the players are refuting the details of the claims made. Because the nature of these allegations is serious, it is important that we carefully look at these claims without prejudice or assumptions.

"We are reaching out to the individuals who have made these allegations and urging them to formally lodge their complaints with the Independent Complaints Management Service, which is run by highly regarded lawyer Steph Dyhrberg. We have already discussed with Ms Dyhrberg her involvement in coordinating an investigation into both incidents," Cass said.

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said he had had initial discussions with the players and team management.

"The players are distraught about the accusations as they continue to refute the alleged version of events.

"Clearly the right thing to do is to formalise the investigation into these matters, which would allow both sides to be heard."

Customers at a McDonald's restaurant on Long Street in the Cape Town CBD claim they were the subject of homophobic slurs by members of the Crusaders shortly after the Super Rugby match against the Stormers but have not yet produced hard evidence.

As many as three Crusaders players were accused on Instagram by Cape Town man Alexandros Paterimos of "physically intimidating" behaviour, however, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson claims only one player, All Black George Bridge, was involved, denying that anything "untoward" happened.

"George who I've talked a lot about, he engaged with him ... he's really upset around everything that's come out, he's extremely, authentically genuine that there was nothing ever said," Robertson said.

"George said 'mate I just want to have a photo with you' ... there was no interaction with anyone else. That's where the misinterpretation came. A selfie gone wrong really.

"He just can't understand how it's got to this platform."

The Crusaders strongly refuted the 'socialised account' of events in a statement released yesterday.

"Allegations have been made via social media that there was a verbal altercation between members of the public and some Crusaders players who were out getting food after the match against the Stormers in Cape Town. The original post claimed players exhibited homophobic behaviour.

"The three players, team management and the South African-based security advisor with them, strongly refute the socialised account of what happened. They are devastated by the allegation and the implication of homophobic behaviour."

Robertson further downplayed the interaction saying "no homophobic words or gestures were used".

All Black Mo'unga has also been accused of spitting beer at a woman in a Cape Town bar and inappropriately touching her, according to a Radio New Zealand report.

RNZ has quoted the woman as saying the incident happened on Saturday, May 11 at the Arcade bar in Cape Town.

The woman is seeking to obtain security footage from the bar to further validate the story. She says she has also emailed Crusaders management.

 

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