1 Jul 2019

Crusaders allegations not upheld or substantiated - NZR

9:13 pm on 1 July 2019

An investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Crusaders players in South Africa has found the allegations neither substantiated nor upheld.

Crusaders first five Richie Mo'unga and winger George Bridge.

Crusaders first five Richie Mo'unga and winger George Bridge. Photo: Photosport

A group of players, including Crusaders' wing George Bridge, were accused of making homophobic remarks to a group of men in a Cape Town restaurant.

Crusaders and All Blacks first five Richie Mo'unga was said to have spat beer on a woman and touched her inappropriately.

The alleged incidents - which have been denied by the players - occurred on the team's tour of South Africa last month.

In a statement, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said its investigation, with the assistance of Wellington lawyer Steph Dyhrberg, found the allegations against George Bride could not be upheld because the the complainant did not participate in the investigation process.

It also said the allegations against Richie Mo'unga could not be substantiated.

NZR Head of Rugby Nigel Cass said Mo'unga acknowledged he had been drinking on the night when the complainant approached him with an allegation to which he responded in a way that was poor, but which NZR accepted was out of character.

"The way he responded to the complainant was inconsistent with NZR values and expectations, and he has acknowledged this and subsequently apologised.

"We feel that he has learned some valuable lessons and we are satisfied that he will not put himself in the same position again in future.

"We have made our expectations around behaviour clear to him. He has been reminded of his obligation to be a role model for the sport at all times, especially when approached by members of the public - even in a social setting," Cass said.

NZR said it has asked the Crusaders to urgently review their protocols for team post-match activity.

'I believe the players' version of events' - Crusaders CEO

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge told Checkpoint he was not able to comment on the details of the report because it was part of a confidential employment dispute.

He said although the report was unable to substantiate the accusations he was not going to say they were false.

"What's clear to me is that from the information I have available I believe the players' version of events."

Mr Mansbridge said there was a lot for the team to learn from the incident.

He said he considered imposing a zero alcohol police on tour after the allegations but ultimately decided against it.

"In the same way we wouldn't say there is no alcohol in life, we're not going to say no alcohol on tour.

"Our settings probably require tweaking rather then locking player up in a hotel then rolling them out to play a match."

He said since the South African tour the team has had five to 10 meetings to review and discuss their rules for post match activity.

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