Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Chiefs must front to Strippergate

It's time for senior Chiefs players to step forward, and tell us about the team's attitude to women. They need to give us something encouraging, from the heart.

The franchise's image is in tatters. The team's Strippergate disaster is like an ugly memento out of a time warp.

All Black coach Steve Hansen got the tone dead right when he said rugby needed to move on from the boozy disasters in waiting. But the game needs to go much further than that.

Hansen put a stake in safe ground. Others need to pick it up, and start making even stronger statements.

This is not an issue about what is good for the team. It is about personal rights, and society's attitude to women.

The Chiefs have fallen short so far. Their chief executive Andrew Flexman fluffed his early lines. And quite frankly, I'm absolutely shocked at the statement from Margaret Comer, the corporate services executive of Gallagher Group who are major Chiefs sponsors.

Comer said: "If a woman takes her clothes off and walks around in a group of men, what are we supposed to do if one of them tries to touch her. It's not nice and perhaps the stripper shouldn't have been hired, but I'm reluctant to say that the boys were out of line."

Comer doesn't need to say the Chiefs players are out of line before the results of an investigation are known. But as a general principle, she does need to make it clear that a woman's right to say no must be respected. Under any circumstances.

This is actually one of those reverse situations where a sporting franchise needs to publicly distance itself from a sponsor's statement.

The stripper, known as Scarlette, has given details alleging how she was inappropriately touched, shown disrespect and even short-changed by the Chiefs team.

Flexman's initial response casting doubts on Scarlette's character, because she is a stripper, also displayed what is hopefully an archaic attitude. He later tried to say he didn't mean it that way, but his apology was still delivered through a loophole about context.

Rugby is happy to use sex to sell its sport - just look at the Super Bang Bang commercial where scantily clad women throw themselves in a subservient way at players.

Scarlette is also using sex to make a living, but she has the right to draw boundaries, and to be respected when she says no. Whatever the investigation's outcome, we need to hear some Chiefs players make it clear that they understand and wholeheartedly support that.

And rugby might consider quitting those Bang Bang-style commercials, and stop portraying women as trinkets dangling off their superstars.

Lizzie Marvelly: I'm ashamed

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 02 Oct 2016 11:52:08 Processing Time: 727ms