A storm of controversy has hit the Crusaders rugby team today, with allegations that players were involved in a homophobic verbal attack in the early hours of Sunday morning.
It came after the Crusaders’ 19-all draw with the Stormers on Saturday night South African time.
The team has released a statement that 'strongly refutes' the version of events that have been publicised on social media, and said the players involved were 'devastated'
'The three players, team management and the South African-based security adviser with them, strongly refute the socialised account of what happened [sic]' a press release sent out at 2pm today said.
Crusaders CEO Colin Mainsbridge 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 we have received from the team and the security adviser who was present."
A tweet from user @adamlennoxx containing a long form message read:
‘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 us a joke…Upon telling them that this is wrong they began physically intimidating us (coming up to our faces and telling us we better stop arguing or they will “f**k us up if we don’t watch it”) then after arguing that straight white men are losing power – we were met with homophobic slurs, limp wrists and high pitched voices which were clearly in gest [sic]’
For the love of the game right?! pic.twitter.com/fWtS6roadf— adam (@adamlennoxx) May 19, 2019
Another allegation has surfaced from last week as well, seemingly referring to the aftermath of the Crusaders’ match with the Bulls in Pretoria. User @Kaylene_vDalen tweeted on May 16 that:
‘We’re dancing and talking in between songs, minding our own business. Suddenly out of nowhere this guy spits beer on us… This guy completely ignores her and us that’s giving him dirty looks from a distance. Mans was not bothered one bit and carried on with his conversation. My girlfriend then tells his friend that he needs to watch the guy that spat beer on us because that was not okay… The next day we found out the guy was a well known rugby player for the Crusaders and I’ve vowed to never go to places where rugby players hang out.’
The next day we found out the guy was a well known rugby player for the Crusaders and I’ve vowed to never go to places where rugby players hang out— Kaylene🌻 (@Kaylene_vDalen) May 16, 2019
Commenters have flooded the Crusaders official Twitter and Instagram pages, leading to many comments being deleted, and the pages having restrictions put in place.
The allegations come only two days after Israel Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia for a homophobic tweet sent in April.
Te Ao Māori News has contacted the Crusaders camp for comment.