England rugby team management has come out solidly in support of four players facing police investigation over an incident said to have taken place early Sunday in Auckland.
But manager Rob Andrew gave little away over the incident, much to the frustration of a large English and New Zealand media contingent at a press conference in Christchurch this afternoon.
British newspapers are on the streets today with little news of what happened.
This morning police communications manager Noreen Hegarty said Auckland CIB are investigating an allegation involving up to four members of the team at the luxury waterfront Hilton Hotel.
The incident being investigated is alleged to have occurred early on Sunday, June 15, in a private room.
No formal complaint had been received by the police and so police would not identify the person who made the allegation.
She said investigating officers are receiving the appropriate level of co-operation from the England rugby team management.
The England rugby team management said in their own statement they are cooperating with the inquiry
England Rugby Football Union spokesman Richard Prescott said the England rugby team had been informed by the Auckland police that an allegation has been made against four members of the England playing squad.
"Whilst no formal complaint has been made we are co-operating with the police and their inquiries.
"In the circumstances we're unable to make any further comment."
In Christchurch this afternoon Andrews read the brief statement already made and added two paragraphs.
"Can I simply add the players concerned have the complete support of all players and management," he said.
"I am sure you will understand and respect that no further comment can be made or questions asked of either myself of players on this matter."
Andrew immediately left much to the frustration of the touring British and local media.
Journalists were left to interview rugby players – solely on the game.
The Guardian reported a "serious allegation" had been made but added little new.
It said separately England have already been upset on their short two-Test tour of New Zealand by an allegation on a local radio station that their prop Andrew Sheridan had been seen out drinking with colleagues after midnight last Wednesday, less than 72 hours before the first Test which his side lost 37-20.
The Guardian said Sheridan strongly denied the allegation, stating he had been in bed watching television, and Andrew, said this week that he had "absolutely no issues" with his players' behaviour.
"Are we in New Zealand? Yeah, thought so," he retorted, implying that English touring sides are not unfamiliar with such allegations when they tour the southern hemisphere.
The Guardian said the latest allegation is unlikely to help the squad's preparations for the second Test in Christchurch this weekend, the final game in a long season which effectively started 12 months ago for those players who were involved in England's World Cup squad.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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