Rugby boss defends team's reputation
Tue, 26 Jun 2012 6:40a.m.
By 3 News online staff with AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray
New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chief executive Steve Tew has defended the reputation of the ‘Baby Blacks’, the New Zealand under-20 rugby team, following a rape allegation being made against one of the team’s players.
South African police are awaiting the results of forensic tests before deciding whether to press rape charges against at least one member of the team.
A 22-year-old South African woman alleges she was raped hours after the Baby Blacks lost the IRB Junior World Championship final to their South African counterparts on Friday night.
“It’s disappointing but let’s be clear we are still dealing with an allegation, no charges have been laid, no one’s been detained, no one’s even been to a police station,” says Mr Tew.
“It is now what it is, and we’re trying to deal with it as professionally as we can.”
He confirms that the team had been drinking on the night the alleged incident took place.
“Alcohol has been consumed by some team members including this player, but we’re not of the view that it was excessive.”
He has also confirmed that the player in question broke team rules.
Watch extended video of Mr Tew speaking about the allegation
“It is clear that a player took a young woman to his room, and that is against team protocols.”
It’s possible that some internal disciplinary action will eventually be taken against the player outside of any police investigation, but Mr Tew says it is not fair to comment further on that at this stage.
The team were able to leave South Africa as scheduled, and have not heard any more from the South African police to date.
“Sometimes these things can take a bit longer than people will like,” says Mr Tew.
“We’re providing our team and particularly the player involved with appropriate support, but we’re also co-operating fully with any inquiries we get back from South Africa.”
South African police have interviewed witnesses and carried out tests at the alleged crime scene, Cape Town’s Southern Sun Hotel, and have confirmed at least one member of the New Zealand team is being investigated but say the woman's memory of the alleged incident is vague.
South Africa police service colonel Vish Naidoo said media reports of a gang rape involving four New Zealand players were speculation and "never suggested" by police.
"No one can say whom she's alleged to be raped by at this stage," he told the Associated Press.
Mr Naidoo wouldn't say if the alleged rape took place at the team hotel but South African media reported four players were involved in the incident at the New Zealand hotel in the suburb of Newlands, minutes from the rugby stadium.
After earlier confirming that at least one member of the team provided a DNA sample to the police, Mr Tew says now that two players have given samples.
“DNA has been provided by [the player in question] and his roommate.”
Players Association chief executive Rob Nichol has been working with the rugby union to ensure the player is looked after and says a lawyer has been hired in South Africa.
“It is pretty standard practice for anyone when you’re overseas if you get caught up in a situation, the local authorities in fact greatly appreciate the fact that you’re able to get somebody local on the ground who’s able to assist with [things],” says Mr Nichol.
The New Age reporter De Wet Potgieter says the woman told staff at the hotel she was there to visit a cousin, and local authorities are attempting to ascertain how she met members of the team.
“She couldn’t even assist the police in pinpointing who allegedly raped her […] so the police are relying on the forensic tests and the DNA and things like that to solve this,” he told Firstline this morning.
“At this stage it is a very, very, very strange investigation.”
Watch the video to see Firstline's full interview with Mr Potgieter.
Hotel staff say the woman called her parents the morning after the alleged incident, who urged her to press charges.
South African police have confirmed an investigation is underway.
“Following this allegation we have opened this rape case, preliminary investigations have been conducted,” says Mr Naidoo.
The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have both denied reports high level negotiations were required before the team could leave South Africa and the NZRU says the team is cooperating with local authorities.
"We have a very serious criminal allegation made against one of our players and we will co-operate with police until a conclusion is drawn," Mr Tew told Radio New Zealand.
"Right now our focus is ensuring the police in South Africa have all the information and assistance that they require."
In a statement released yesterday the NZRU said:
“The team and team management complied with local police requirements and cooperated fully and assisted them with their enquiries after which police advised they were happy for all members of the team to travel home.”
A review into the breach of team protocols - players are not allowed to take guests into their rooms - will take place at a later date.
South African police say it could be up to a month before they get the results of forensic tests and before it is decided whether or not to lay charges.
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26/06/2012 3:55:59 p.m.
NZU probably payed the girl out, to sweep it under the carpet. If this player was willing to break team rules, then why wouldn't he be willing to break the law?
26/06/2012 1:55:54 p.m.
it seeMs convenient that its always rape. when will these duMbass jocks learn that they are a target. they should keep it zipped up and learn to be faithful and honorable.breaking rules is cool isnt it when it could spell the end of a career. hpw duMb can u be. but faMe does attract the scourge of faMe hungry lowlifes who will say and do anyhthing for attention and a pay off. we get what we deserve it life so if he did rape her then he will get his justice and not necessarily by the law.
26/06/2012 10:55:45 a.m.
A cover up by this girl for something else perhaps. A change of mind? Does sound wierd on the surface. DNA will get to the bottom of it as to who, but not necessarily what or why.
26/06/2012 10:29:40 a.m.
ALL THESE RUGBY PLAYERS SEEM TO BE OF DUBIOUS CHARACTER , WIFE BEATERS KILLERS WHILE DRUNK DRIVING , ASSAULT . DRUGS WHAT ELSE . THAT'S WHY MY GOD IS THE BLESSED LORD JESUS CHRIST NOT SOME DUMB RUGBY PLAYER . THEY WILL GET OF AS USUAL AND THE MEDIA WILL TREAT IT AS THOUGH THAT'S HOW IT SHOULD BE . AS USUAL .
26/06/2012 10:17:21 a.m.
what is it with wanna be slappers who go into hotel rooms with testosterone loaded celebrities. They know exactly what they are getting into. Testosterone, alcohol and silly desperate women do not mix well. Never has and never will. I don't condone rape, but do they not learn. Where is the self respect in young women today. It appears to be non existing.
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