New Zealand Rugby and the Crusaders are jointly reviewing allegations about player behaviour while on tour in South Africa.
NZR Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass confirmed that enquiries started as soon as staff were alerted by Crusaders management.
The allegations arose after a handful of Crusaders player visited a McDonald’s outlet in Cape Town following their 19-all draw with the Stormers.
Some players were accused by two people at the restaurant of displaying “physically intimidating” behaviour, alleging they made homophobic slurs, limp wrist gestures and adopted high pitched voices.
As many as three players were accused of such actions, although Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has acknowledged only wing George Bridge was involved in what he described as a “selfie gone wrong”.
In a separate incident, a Cape Town woman made accusations that star first-five Richie Mo’unga allegedly spat beer at her and her friend group, of which Mo’unga apologised for via Instagram.
“The allegations that have been made about players, in two different incidences, are very serious. These allegations are about abuse, inappropriate and offensive behaviour, and we do not tolerate this,” Cass said.
“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.”
New Zealand Rugby and the Crusaders said they hope the investigation will be concluded as soon as possible.
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