Nichol: AB's bugging scandal a wake-up call for other sports

By Simon Plumb

New Zealand All Blacks hotel the Intercontinental at Double Bay, where a bug was found in the All Blacks team meeting room.
New Zealand All Blacks hotel the Intercontinental at Double Bay, where a bug was found in the All Blacks team meeting room.

The All Blacks bugging scandal means people must realise other sports in New Zealand are also targets for underhand and potentially illegal tactics, says the chief of the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association.

Rob Nichol says other codes - particularly those which enjoy greater global popularity than rugby such as football and cricket - must grasp they are also exposed to integrity risks, including being bugged or tapped-up in person for insider information.

"One-hundred percent," Nichol said. "You only have to Google corruption and cheating in sport overseas and the biggest sports, like football, will have numerous stories about what has happened over the years.

"For the New Zealand public, I dare say this will be a shock. By and large here, we are a corruption-free and an honest country in the world of sport.

"But for the team and coaches, it won't be a surprise. There's been so much education around it, it's been a matter of when, not if, something like this happens."

Nichol said the All Blacks players are not too concerned about being targeted by the scandal, but they are likely to have concerns about the integrity of their game.

"The players won't be too worried about how it affects them individually, they'll be more concerned about the integrity of the game," he said.

"Competition is about being pure, it's no different from doping or any other form of cheating. You do not want it infiltrated looking to compromise it. That's where the players' heads are at.

"It's a breach of the integrity of sport whether it's information gathered for betting or for another sort of advantage. It's the kind of thing that happens."

Today the Herald revealed the bug only had a battery life of around three days - and was still operational when discovered by All Blacks security personnel - strongly suggesting the All Blacks were the explicit target.

Australian police, who have launched a criminal investigation, are scouring CCTV footage from the Intercontinental hotel in Double Bay to try and catch the culprits.

After what happened in Sydney, New Zealand police said they took "the normal steps to ensure the safety of both spectators and players" for tonight's test between the All Blacks and the Wallabies in Wellington.

"The security of the premise in which the players are staying is a matter to be addressed by the team and or the hotel."

The duty manager at the Intercontinental's Wellington hotel - where the All Blacks are based this week - said she was not allowed to discuss this week's security arrangements or the ongoing police investigation into the company's Double Bay hotel in Sydney.

New Zealand Rugby has previously said it would be inappropriate to comment further while the police investigation continues.

"You've got to take it seriously, Nichol said. "The right thing to do is to get it into the hands of the police, it's a criminal matter.

"It's outside the rules of the game in this situation, potentially a breach of the law."

- Herald on Sunday

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