Is Christchurch the new twilight zone for sports stars behaving badly?

The Garden City may be one of my most loved cities but there seems to be something about Christchurch that causes sports stars to momentarily park their common sense and instead get themselves into a truckload of trouble.

Too many well known stars appear to leave their brains behind before they land at Christchurch Airport - or in the case of All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith, they leave them - and other things - at the airport itself.

Here's just a few recent incidents which might have some of us questioning whether there's something in the water in Christchurch or it has become some sort of weird Bermuda Triangle for sports stars...


-Tana Umaga created international headlines, albeit with a dash of hilarity, when he used a woman's handbag to smack All Black team-mate Chris Masoe over the head in a Christchurch bar called The Jolly Poacher in 2006. Masoe burst into tears after the incident and the pair, who had been drowning their sorrows after the Hurricanes' loss in the Super Rugby final to the Crusaders, were then thrown out by a female bouncer. The 22-year-old owner of the handbag told media: "I mean a handbag, of all hilarious ... he hit him pretty hard. We heard it across the bar." The bag later sold for $22,000 on TradeMe.

-Umaga has had problems before in Christchurch. Six years earlier, he got so drunk after celebrating a test victory over the Springboks that he had to be helped back to his hotel. Team management was forced to act after allegations that the future All Blacks captain was abusive and looking for a fight. He was videotaped being led away by minders from Cathedral Square in the city centre. TV3 screened the video and 16 years on, Umaga hasn't forgotten that. The now Blues coach doesn't go out of his way to do anything for the network.

-Christchurch has been a problem city for Jesse Ryder. Cricket's perennial problem child first got himself into significant trouble in the Garden City in 2008. Cricket bosses said they were "hurt" and "disappointed" after an early-morning incident that has put Ryder out for three months with a badly gashed right hand. The Black Caps batsman spent a night in Christchurch Hospital after surgery to repair the hand slashed when he broke a window to get into a toilet at the Stock X Change Bar and Cafe in Christchurch about 5.30am. The bar's owner said Ryder, 23, walked to Christchurch Hospital afterwards. He needed a reconstruction to the exterior tendon on his index finger, a flap reconstruction and skin graft.

-Ryder was charged with serious misconduct over being drunk and disorderly during an indoor cricket competition in Christchurch. He was then axed from the third one-day international in Auckland after he became involved in a verbal altercation with patrons at a Napier bar.

-Ryder was back in Christchurch Hospital in 2013 with injuries including a fractured skull, a punctured lung and internal bleeding after an ugly incident at a bar early in the morning. The incident at Aikman's Bar in the suburb of Merivale created massive headlines after Ryder brawled with another patron in front of the bar.

-Leading Australian TV personality Matt Johns was accused along with other Cronulla Sharks club rugby league players when the Australian team was in Christchurch for a trial game in 2002. Australian TV show Four Corners aired an expose on the claims where a women said she had group sex with several players, including Johns, in a Christchurch hotel. She claimed the encounter left her with psychological damage and led to her abandoning her studies. In 2010 Psychiatrists reported that she was suicidal, had cut her wrists several times and bought a rope to hang herself. She told the TV show she felt degraded and traumatised by the incident and despised the players involved.