HDPA: Crusaders players should be stood down during investigation

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 21 May 2019, 5:10PM
Richie Mo'unga is one of the Crusaders facing allegations over his behaviour. (Photo / Photosport)

So the Crusaders are in trouble.

First we had the allegations about three players making homophobic slurs in a cape town McDonald’s.

Then today, we’ve heard allegations that Richie Mo’unga spat beer at a woman in a bar in Cape Town.

Right now, the players are denying anything’s happened. George Bridge, one of the players in the McDonald’s incident, says it never happened like that. Richie Mo’unga says he was intoxicated and should’ve gone home, but isn’t aware that he did that.

Right now it’s a he-said, she-said and a he-said, he-said, so the Crusaders have done the right thing and called in an independent QC to take a look at it and get to the bottom of what happened and what didn’t happen.

But the question is: should these players be out there on the field, playing this weekend, if we don’t know what happened.

Personally, I don’t think they should.

Firstly, these are by the Crusaders’ CEO’s own admission “ very serious” allegations. Serious enough to call in an independent QC to get to the bottom of it.

Second, there is enough murkiness there to make you wonder what happened.

It’s described as a selfie gone wrong, which makes you think one of the customers in McDonald’s has gone up to the Crusaders and asked for a selfie right?  And then it’s got a bit heated?

No: what’s been reported is George Bridge, the Crusaders’ outside back, was the one asking for a selfie... with a stranger in McDonald’s in the middle of Cape Town. Why? Why would he do that unless he found that man amusing or interesting? Which makes it murky, right? 

And thirdly, we’ve just had the Israel Folau brain explosion. We’ve just had Rugby Australia condemn that guy for attacking gay people.

We know gay men find it hard in rugby circles to come out. We know that because there are very few high profile gay rugby players, and the few that there are - think Nigel Owens - tell us how hard it is to come out.

So, it’s not a good look for a New Zealand rugby player to be accused of homophobia, and it’s not a good look for his club to go ‘oh we’re looking into it, but until then, we’re letting him take the field because while it’s serious, it’s not serious enough to take him off the turf’.

Men have left the turf for less. Look at Aaron Smith’s bathroom scandal. That was consensual in that cubicle, and he made the call to go home.

This is not a complicated investigation. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks to get to the bottom of what happened. It’s not much to ask the Crusaders to stand their players down for a couple of weeks, is it?

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