All Blacks spying scandal: Why take so long to report bug?

By Gregor Paul, Ben Hill, Simon Plumb, Russell Blackstock, Simon Plumb

Australian police forensics experts were last night analysing the sophisticated listening device discovered in the All Blacks' team room ahead of their Bledisloe Cup clash against the Wallabies.

In a spying scandal that threatens to rock international rugby, the Herald revealed yesterday the device, similar to the sort used by law enforcement and spying agencies, had been planted in a chair in the Sydney hotel where the team had been staying in the lead-up to last night's test.

The foam of the seat appeared to have been deliberately and carefully cut to make way for the surveillance device and then sewn or glued back together to be almost undetectable.

It was discovered on Monday after team management asked the security detail looking after them in Australia to sweep the room for bugs.

New South Wales police are investigating how the device was planted in the All Blacks' team room at the InterContinental Hotel in Double Bay - and just who placed it there.

As the forensic experts examined the device - at the same time the All Blacks took to Sydney's ANZ Stadium - police were also investigating why it took several days for New Zealand Rugby to come forward after they found the device.

Police have also appealed for any information about who was responsible for the planting of the bug.

Under Australian federal law it is an offence to knowingly use a listening device to record a private conversation.

NZR chief executive Steve Tew said the Australian Rugby Union had been informed and the investigation had been handed over to Australian police.

"There was an All Blacks team meeting there earlier in the week," Tew said.

"If the device was working properly, and we don't know that for sure, then they would have overheard that."

ARU boss Bill Pulver categorically denied the Australian union had any involvement in the bugging of the All Blacks.

"It is completely ludicrous. I just think it's a ludicrous concept that there are listening devices being placed in team rooms. I don't know how that could happen.

"I'm utterly disappointed the story would break on match day and frankly, that's all I've got to say," Pulver said.

"I simply don't know the background but I'm clearly disappointed it gets out to the media on the day of a Bledisloe Cup match."

The Herald on Sunday has been told hiding the device was a highly skilled and meticulous act and whoever put it there would have needed a significant amount of time to have pulled off such an accomplished job.

If the device was working properly, and we don't know that for sure, then they would have overheard that.
Steve Tew

Wherever the All Blacks stay, they are allocated a room where the players can gather and where private meetings about strategy, tactics and selection can take place.

This room is always clearly marked as private, is usually roped off or inaccessible to anyone other than players and management and sometimes has security personnel monitoring the entrance.

If the device was planted with the intention of listening into the All Blacks, then whoever was trying to do that would also have needed to have known which room to place the chair and have been able to get it in there undetected.

The All Blacks - coached by Steven Hansen, a former police officer - have been aware over the years of various attempts to spy on them while they have been training.

As the scandal broke, former Wallaby and World Cup winner Matt Burke told Veitch on Sport the revelations were a "turning point in what we thought was a pure game".

Although people would need to wait for the outcome of the police investigation, he hoped Australian rugby authorities were not involved.

- Herald on Sunday

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