New Zealand Rugby, Crusaders investigate Cape Town incidents
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Rugby and the Crusaders Super Rugby franchise have opened investigations into two allegations of inappropriate player behavior in South Africa last weekend.
One involves allegations of homophobic behavior and the other reports of a player spitting beer over patrons at a bar.
New Zealand internationals Richie Mo’unga and George Bridge are among the players under investigation.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson confirmed Bridge was among a group of Crusaders players and security staff who are accused of making homophobic comments and gestures towards a group of men at a Cape Town fast food outlet.
Flyhalf Mo’unga was later accused of spitting beer over patrons at a bar and pinching a woman following the Crusaders game in Cape Town on Saturday. The woman reportedly contacted Mo’unga later via Instagram to complain about his behavior. Radio New Zealand reported Mo’unga apologized via his social media account.
New Zealand Rugby spokesman Nigel Cass on Tuesday said a joint inquiry had been launched.
“The allegations that have been made about players in two different incidences are very serious,” Cass said. “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.”
Robertson, speaking to reporters on the team’s return to New Zealand, said the allegations of homophobic behavior had arisen because of a “misinterpretation.”
He said Bridge is “really upset around everything that’s come out. He’s extremely, authentically genuine that there was nothing ever said.”
Robertson said Bridge had asked to have a photograph taken with one of the men involved in the incident.
“There was no interaction with anyone else,” Robertson said. “That’s where the misinterpretation came ... a selfie gone wrong really.
“No homophobic words or gestures were used.”
New Zealand Rugby and the Crusaders said the players involved rejected descriptions of the incidents.
“Because the nature of these allegations is serious, it is important that we carefully look at these claims without prejudice or assumptions,” Cass said. “We are reaching out to the individuals who have made these allegations and urging them to formally lodge their complaints.”