Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Could NZ Rugby be in trouble over spygate?

New Zealand Rugby's delay in reporting the discovery of a listening device at the All Blacks' hotel in Sydney last week may have fallen foul of World Rugby's anti-corruption regulations.

The device, described as a sophisticated bug, was found in a security sweep by team officials on Monday and not handed to the police until five days later.

A spokesman for the sport's world governing body said he couldn't speculate on the particulars of the case, now being looked at by the NSW police after the bug was found hidden in a chair in a team meeting room at the Intercontinental Hotel before Saturday's record-breaking 42-8 Bledisloe Cup victory, but added: "We take all allegations of compromised sporting integrity seriously and have in place robust regulations and programmes, including those that operate at our own events."

One theory is that a betting syndicate is behind the planting of the device - any classified information can provide advantages for those betting on matches, and World Rugby is particularly strict on match fixing, and "spot fixing", whereby specific elements of the game are manipulated to provide a certain result.

World Rugby has its own anti-corruption website which provides information to players and officials and states all suspicious activity or behaviour must be reported to World Rugby immediately.

The website includes a section on "reporting an approach, suspicion or breaches", which says: "While you may also speak to your local union or players' association regarding an approach or suspicious activity, reporting to World Rugby as the central body is an obligation on all connected persons and is essential to ensure that all relevant information which may relate to corrupt approaches or corruption in the game is filed in one place.

"This allows World Rugby and unions to monitor reports, behaviours and potential breaches from one centralised database. For example, a 'corrupter' or gambling syndicate may operate across various countries and World Rugby needs to know about their activities globally to be able to protect participants in the game wherever they are.

"In most countries, as well as contacting World Rugby, you may also be obliged to report match-fixing or potential corruption in sport to your local police service," the website says.

NZ Rugby confirmed they informed World Rugby of the incident on Saturday.

World Rugby are unlikely to be impressed by the delay.

NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew, who arrived in Sydney after attending the Rio Olympics, apparently wanted to discuss the matter with his Australian rugby counterpart Bill Pulver before going to the police.

Malcolm Speed, a former chief executive of the International Cricket Committee and current executive director of the Australian Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the delay was questionable.

"If one of the possibilities is that it's linked to betting or corruption, it's less than ideal that it wasn't reported immediately," Speed said.

"In cricket we were alert to issues like this and asked to report it to the local authorities immediately.

"From an anti-corruption perspective, it's not ideal."

- NZ Herald

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