Crusaders deny South Africa poaching claims

BY RICHARD KNOWLER IN JOHANNESBURG
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2010

Relevant offers

Super Rugby

Stormers back on top in South Africa Highlanders grind out win over defensive Western Force Waratahs beat Crusaders to leave Kiwi side's Super Rugby hopes in tatters Michael Cheika defends Waratahs hooker Tolu Latu over lifting tackle on Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock Lions defeat Cheetahs, keep Super Rugby playoff hopes alive Hurricanes teach Blues a Super Rugby lesson in Auckland rain Live Super Rugby: Blues vs Hurricanes #BLUvHUR Augustine Pulu puts pressure on Chiefs coach Dave Rennie after star showing All Blacks Julian Savea and Brodie Retallick set to re-sign with NZ Rugby for another four years Reds won't blame O'Connor for moment of madness

Chief executive Hamish Riach has hotly denied allegations the Crusaders are attempting to poach South Africa's rising rugby stars.

A report in a South African newspaper yesterday alleged the Crusaders planned to grab the country's rising talent and that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) had fired off a letter to the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) to demand it intervene.

But last night Riach denied there was anything sinister about the Crusaders' involvement in a private sporting academy in Centurion, near Pretoria.

"This is wrong, they have completely got the wrong end of the stick. To say we are intending to pinch their players is completely untrue."

Instead, Riach stated, the Crusaders were entered into a commercial licensing agreement with the academy which also involves sports such as golf, swimming and football.

Riach acknowledged that when the Crusaders toured the republic in the future some members of the team would visit the setup. The franchise would benefit financially from the licensing agreement.

Yesterday's report stated the academy had been sending a letter to schools, detailing information about a "nationwide talent identification programme at an all-expenses paid training camp" for 60 under-16 players in July.

The report added that the letter from the SARU to the NZRU stated: "What we find frankly horrifying is the systematic and widespread targeting of young players in SA.

"We would therefore appreciate if you could intervene on our behalf with the Crusaders by passing on our concerns and asking them to cancel this expedition."

Riach said he was unaware of that correspondence and has heard nothing from the NZRU or the SARU.

"The vast majority of players that attend the academy will be from South Africa.

"It's not about us pinching any of their players to play for the Crusaders at all," he said.

Ad Feedback

- The Press

Special offers
Opinion poll

Which 2015 NZ Super Rugby team looks best?

Blues

Chiefs

Crusaders

Highlanders

Hurricanes

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content