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Andrew Alderson: Perhaps Goldilocks listened in on 'Pa Bear'?

All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen during a press conference at the Spencer on Byron Hotel. Photo / Photosport
All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen during a press conference at the Spencer on Byron Hotel. Photo / Photosport

Rugby has its own Watergate. In a nod to the bugging of the Democratic National Convention at the Watergate Hotel in 1972, a move which brought down the American presidency of Richard Nixon, an attempt has been made to eavesdrop on the All Blacks' team room ahead of the opening Rugby Championship test against the Wallabies last night.

The listening device sewn into a chair might have been used to uncover the activities of a hotel tenant before the All Blacks moved in on Sunday. If not, we are left with one alternative: some individual or organisation was determined to find out more about the New Zealand tactics.

The prospect of coach Steve Hansen's "Pa Bear" dialect being decipherable to a bug buried in centimetres of foam remains moot, but either a fan had a Rain Man-like fetish for unravelling lineout calls and scrum moves, or something more sinister was at work.

Australian police have been alerted and the hotel, Sydney's Intercontinental in Double Bay, has launched its own investigation.

Let us channel our best Sherlock Holmes to reveal motives for "whodunit?".

Inside knowledge would be crucial to know the room in which to place the incriminating chair. That means a hotel accomplice might be required in the plot.

ARU boss Bill Pulver denied their involvement, while chastising the media: "Mate, of course [the ARU is not involved]. 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."

Could it have been fellow media? Has nationalism trespassed across reporters' allegiance to objectivity?

That would seem extreme, and for what gain? So you could write a story saying the All Blacks were more likely to throw to No 2 or No 4 in the lineout?

Betting organisations are another to be called in for metaphorical questioning. Knowing patterns and formulas help syndicates survive on often slim margins.

Perhaps, to add a twist, a security business is the culprit. A rogue firm decides they want to broaden the markets for their industry. If so, they have succeeded. The once-bitten All Blacks will always employ bug-sweepers from now when preparing for tests.

Alternatively, and this is presumably written in jest, a lone wolf within the All Blacks might have committed the deed to spice up a waning rugby rivalry. The Wallabies have not held the Bledisloe Cup since 2002.

The upshot is the issue will need remedying, or at least controlling. The onus goes on World Rugby to work on a solution to give teams peace of mind in their preparations. In New Zealand that is particularly relevant with a Lions tour coming next year.

The All Blacks already suspected some team rooms may have been bugged during last year's World Cup, but didn't have the necessary equipment to detect listening devices. This week they did. Rugby has a new enemy.

- Herald on Sunday

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Covers sport across NZME's print, digital and radio brands.

Andrew writes and broadcasts on cricket and the Olympic disciplines for NZME's print, digital, video and radio platforms. His most recent project followed New Zealand sportspeople competing in Europe during the 2015 northern summer. He has attended four cricket World Cups, three Olympics and regularly works as a correspondent overseas.

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