Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Rugby rape claim: Players had been reminded of team rules

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew says at least one Baby Blacks player has provided a DNA sample to South African police investigating the rape claim. Photo / NZ Herald
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew says at least one Baby Blacks player has provided a DNA sample to South African police investigating the rape claim. Photo / NZ Herald

Players from the 'Baby Blacks' were reminded of team protocols while on tour only hours before a member of the squad is alleged to have raped a woman in South Africa.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew addressed media this morning at NZRU headquarters in Wellington and confirmed the player at the centre of the allegation had broken team protocol by having a woman in his hotel room.

South African police are awaiting forensic results before they decide whether they will press charges against an as yet unidentified under-20s squad member accused of raping a 22-year-old woman in a room at the Southern Sun Hotel Newlands in Cape Town on Friday evening (SA time).

Tew said the players were reminded of the expectations surrounding their behaviour as they sat in the dressing room following the 22-16 defeat to the South African under-20 side in the final of the junior world championship at Newlands Stadium.

"They get an awful lot of advice and as late as last thing in the changing sheds on Saturday (NZT) they were reminded of their responsibilities representing this country and their families and also of the dangers of being in a foreign country where, clearly, you put yourself at risk if you make poor decisions and it's obvious this young man had made a poor decision and he is now dealing with it.''

Tew said the side had been drinking but didn't believe they were grossly intoxicated.

"Alcohol has been consumed by some of the team members, including this player. But we are not of the view that it was excessive. But, again, this will be something we'll be working through as part of the investigation.''

The player at the centre of the allegation had provided a statement to the South African police and the NZRU but Tew said they wouldn't reveal the identity of the player or his version of events.

"He's very upset,'' Tew said of the player.

"I'm not in a position to start talking about the detail of his statement. That wouldn't be appropriate. It is a matter before the police and we are not able to talk about what's gone on.''

The squad member and his room-mate, who wasn't in the room at the time of the alleged incident, had both given DNA samples to the South African police.

Tew stressed that they were keen to co-operate with the South African police in any way possible and said the team were free to leave South Africa during the weekend after speaking with the authorities.

"Let's be clear, we are still dealing with an allegation. No charges have been laid. No one's been detained, no one's even been to a police station but the matter is serious. Obviously if it goes any further that's helpful but it is now what it is and we will try and deal with it as professionally as we can.''

Tew said it would be too early to speculate if the player would be sanctioned by the NZRU given he had breached team protocol.

He didn't believe it was fair to paint South Africa as a risky place to tour.

"I don't want to identify South Africa as anymore risky than any other country ... We take pretty careful measure when ever our players are overseas because there are dangers in every country you go to. South Africa's got a unique set of circumstances but Cape Town's not normally seen as a high-risk destination.

"But as I said before we had employed some local security people who are experts, who are involved with all our teams in that country and they were there at the time but we can't watch everybody 24 hours of the day and people have to make their own decisions eventually and be held accountable for them.''

- APNZ

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