Rape allegation 'horrible stress' for Baby Blacks
BRENDON EGAN AND FAIRFAX
Southland-based New Zealand under-20 rugby players Scott Eade and Tuki Raimona say the past 72 hours has been extremely challenging for the team.
The Baby Blacks have dominated the headlines since arriving back on Monday from the IRB world under-20 championships in South Africa, with Cape Town police investigating a rape complaint against at least one member of the team.
Police spokesman Colonel Vish Naidoo said a 22-year-old Cape Town woman alleged she was raped by at least one of the Baby Black players at a hotel in the city on Friday night. Earlier that evening, New Zealand lost 22-16 to South Africa in the final of the tournament.
One member of the New Zealand under-20 rugby team voluntarily provided Cape Town police with a blood sample, fingerprints and a statement after a woman he was with made a rape allegation.
New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew yesterday said it would be "inappropriate" to identify the player.
New Zealand under-20 first-five Scott Eade said the players were unable to comment about the alleged incident, but admitted it had been a difficult time for the squad and they had rallied together to support each other.
"It's been a tough time. The boys have pulled together as a team on the way home," Eade said.
Fellow Southlander Tuki Raimona echoed Eade's sentiments.
"It's horrible stress. We can't say too much about it. It's good the boys have pulled together and are looking after each other."
Raimona and Eade both came onto the field as second-half replacements during the final and said it was heartbreaking to lose the decider to an impressive South African side. New Zealand had won all four of the previous under-20 world championships.
Another Southlander, Marty McKenzie, started at fullback, and capped off an excellent tournament with a strong display in the losing cause. McKenzie gained starts in four of the Baby Blacks' five games.
Eade, who debuted for the Stags in last year's ITM Cup, rated playing in front of the 40,000-strong Newlands crowd as the most exciting time of his rugby career.
"It would probably be the biggest moment of my career. Walking out in front of the crowd. It was so loud," Eade said.
"A lot of the boys were pretty gutted (about the result). We thought we'd been building, but we didn't play badly. Things didn't go to plan."
Promising young loosehead prop Raimona said it had been a big thrill to represent his country at the under-20 world championships. He said it had motivated to keep improving his game and was targeting a spot in the Stags' ITM Cup squad later this year.
"I want to represent Southland at the highest level. Even sitting on the bench would be unreal – being under Whopper (Jamie Mackintosh), Nic Barrett, and Micheal Peterson."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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