Police investigate rugby team rape claim

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Kingsgate Motel Wanganui.
Kingsgate Motel Wanganui.

A rape allegation involving members of the South Canterbury rugby team is under investigation by police.

A young woman is alleged to have been raped in the early hours of Sunday at a Wanganui hotel where the team were staying.

South Canterbury Rugby Union chairman Brent Isbister said he learned of the allegations today.

"This is very distressing for everybody involved, and from a South Canterbury rugby perspective it is very disappointing,'' Mr Isbister said.

"Quite obviously our union will be working with police to help with their investigations.''

He said others on the province's rugby board had been made aware of the allegations but there was no intention at this stage to call a special meeting.

"We'll let the police work through their investigation and that's all I'm prepared to say at this stage.''

The South Canterbury team were in Wanganui for a Heartland Championship match against the local province on Saturday afternoon.

Wanganui Rugby Union chief executive Dale Cobb said he had spoken to New Zealand Rugby and his counterpart at the South Canterbury Rugby Union, based in Timaru.

"Given the sensitive nature of these allegations and the seriousness of them, it's only right that we work off the same page with any comment we make,'' Mr Cobb said.

"We're certainly encouraging the police investigation to run its course and for that reason there's nothing more I can add at this stage.''

He was expecting the national body to make a statement about the alleged incident.

Detective Senior Sergeant Neil Forlong from Whanganui CIB said the investigation was in the early stages.

"We do not yet have all the information including the number of alleged offenders involved,'' he said.

"We have a number of statements to take and one of our priorities is getting this completed so we can piece together what has happened.''

Police were not prepared to release any further details at this stage, Mr Forlong said.

Ten officers are working on the investigation and a scene examination has been completed at the hotel, understood to be the Kingsgate on Victoria Ave.

The manager at the hotel could not be reached and a staff member said she was not aware of the incident.

Three team members were seen drinking at a local bar, and were asked to leave because of intoxication about 1am, TV3 reported.

In 2008 the South Canterbury Rugby Union appeared before a disciplinary hearing related to misconduct by its members on a flight from Gisborne to Wellington.

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