A South African man claims at least three Crusaders players intimidated him in a fast food restaurant in Cape Town, shortly after their Super Rugby match against the Stormers in Cape Town.
Alexandros Paterimos took to Instagram yesterday, alleging prominent Crusaders and All Blacks players of hurling homophobic slurs at him and a friend and "physically intimidated" them at a McDonald's on Long Street in the Cape Town CBD.
The Crusaders said they were aware of the allegations, but strongly refuted the 'socialised account' of events.
"Allegations have been made via social media that there was a verbal altercation between members of the public and some Crusaders players who were out getting food after the match against the Stormers in Cape Town. The original post claimed players exhibited homophobic behaviour.
"The three players, team management and the South African-based security advisor with them, strongly refute the socialised account of what happened. They are devastated by the allegation and the implication of homophobic behaviour."
Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge said: "This is an organisation that is committed to inclusivity and is proud to have earned the Rainbow Tick certification. That is what makes these allegations particularly distressing.
"Given the serious nature of these allegations I will be meeting with the team management and players on their return to Christchurch, however I am confident in the account that we have received from the team and the security advisor who was present."
Paterimos described the incident from his perspective.
"We were attacked by members of the New Zealand rugby team in the mc Donald's [sic] on Long/kloof st last night. As we entered, we were met with jeering and sniggers from them. They then proceeded to record as a joke (also, upon looking on his phone screen, it was recording for either insta/snapchat)," Paterimos posted on Instagram.
"We were met with homophobic slurs, limp wrists and high pitched voices which were clearly in gest [sic].
"When catching them in the act, they told us they did it because we looked funny to them. They then said they can record us in public space if they want to."
Paterimos shared a video of part of the alleged incident.
Although no Crusaders players can be seen in the video, another man – who Paterimos believes to be a part of the travel party – is seen pushing the camera.
Paterimos says the players threatened to "f*** us up if we don't watch it" after confronting them for filming them.
"THEN we told them we will record them TO WHICH the man in the video gave a thumbs up and said, 'you do that'. Thanks for the consent because within a matter of seconds he lashed out which was the video you all saw.
"I'm not entirely sure what the role the man in the video plays in terms of the rugby team – but he was CLEARLY with them. To clarify, the man was the one who reached for [the] phone and proceeded to grip his arm VERY tightly – and then security intervened.
"All team members at the mc Donald's [sic] has a part to play in this. Upon investigation, we also found some of their profiles which is what we have shared with you all. Thank you for the support. Always hate sports."
Paterimos has since shared pictures of two of the three players, with a number of social media users calling for the pair to face action.
The Crusaders drew 19-19 with the Stormers in the Mother City after a controversial decision from South African TMO Marius Jonker to scrub out a brilliant 75th-minute try.
The two players named by Paterimos have both played for the All Blacks and are in contention to make the Rugby World Cup squad in September, while the third is a rising star of the Crusaders.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen told NZME he was unaware of the alleged incident.