New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew has admitted the listening device found in the All Blacks team room at their Sydney hotel before the first Bledisloe Cup test should have been handed to police earlier.
Instead of handing it to the New South Wales authorities immediately, the bug was given to the hotel and only handed over to police five days after it was found, on the day of the test at ANZ Stadium on August 20, and after Tew spoke about the matter to his Australian counterpart Bill Pulver.
Tew, in his post-board meeting media briefing this morning, admitted lessons had been learned. An important integrity protocol of World Rugby's is that any suspicious behaviour or activity be reported to the game's governing body immediately, and in most cases the police.
"It did take five days," Tew said. "We handed it immediately to the hotel, who initiated their own investigation because we were on their premises. There will be some things for us to learn from this process and probably the delay in giving it to the police is something we will reflect on and say we could have done better.
"There was nothing sinister about it, we simply relied on the hotel to get on and find out what was going on."
A recent Herald story reported that the device, which had a limited battery life, was still running when it was found by the All Blacks' security staff, but Tew refused to confirm that or whether he thought it was aimed at the team.
"I'm not going to speculate on whether it was aimed at us or not. Someone much better qualified to do that work can come to those conclusions and we'll take that advice.
"The very fact that we scanned a room for a bug would suggest we are suspicious that there is motivation from a variety of sources to try to glean information that gives people some advantage in something they are doing. Who that is is for you to speculate on. I think it's an unfortunate confirmation of our suspicions but professional sport is a big business. You've got a lot of people very interested in what's going on both in and out of the game."
Tew said he didn't know how long the All Blacks had routinely swept for listening devices, but admitted: "They have been taking appropriate precautions for quite a long time."