All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has clarified his comments surrounding domestic violence after being accused of minimising the harm that domestic violence has on women.
While defending Sevu Reece, who was selected for the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship squad despite admitting to one count of male assaults female in the Hamilton District Court last October, Hansen came under fire for saying that domestic violence is “not just restricted to males assaulting women”.
“Women assault males too. It’s not a gender thing, it’s a New Zealand problem,” Hansen told Jim Kayes on Radio Sport.
That comment led to criticism from some corners for – amongst other things – minimising how harmful domestic violence can be for women, and in a statement today, Hansen said that was not his intention.
“Over the last few days it has become clear that my comments have come across to some people as being unsympathetic or minimising how poisonous and harmful domestic violence is for women. Nothing could be further from what I intended.
“I’m glad to have the chance to correct this impression. Based on my experiences as a police officer, I get the fact that the vast majority of victims of domestic violence are women and children. That’s not in dispute and is plain wrong.”
In the interview on Radio Sport, Hansen said that he hoped Reece, who scored 15 tries for the Crusaders after having his contract ripped up by Irish side Connacht, could be a role model for change.
Hansen and his fellow selectors believe Reece has the character and quality to represent New Zealand and thrive in the high-pressure test rugby environment following his standout performances with the Crusaders in his first year of Super Rugby.
Hansen, who said today that he stands by his other comments on Reece, said the Fijian-born winger made a bad mistake, but has been through the ‘right process’ and in future has the potential to be a leader in New Zealand’s struggles with domestic violence.
“You’ve got to remove him out of it and say, look there’s been a domestic violence incident, do we agree with it? No we don’t,” said Hansen. “Does the New Zealand Rugby Union? No they don’t. Do the Crusaders? No, they don’t.
“But, it’s a big part of our society unfortunately. So rugby is going to have people within its community that are involved in this.
“Why is it a problem? Because we’re all a product of our upbringing. And unfortunately, some of us reflect our parents. Our parents may not want to hear that but they have a huge responsibility to bring us up in a way that we would like to see people conduct themselves.
“I have no problem selecting Sevu Reece because I know he’s been through a process that has been very challenging for him. I know the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Crusaders have great systems in place for that, the justice system has dealt with him. And I’m seeing, everyday, a kid go out and play good rugby. So not only is he doing the job off the field, with his support, he’s also doing the job on the field. So why wouldn’t we pick him? Why wouldn’t we try to get a young man who’s made a mistake to see the error in his ways? And then get him to use that knowledge, and improvement in himself, to help others.
“That’s one of the wonderful things about sport. You can help people in a different environment become better people.”
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