What do you think of Andy Haden's claims that the Crusaders have a 'race ceiling' on their Super 14 squad?
New Zealand rugby boss Steve Tew has blasted former All Black Andy Haden's allegations of race-based recruitment policies at the Crusaders Super 14 franchise.
Tew, who served a half-dozen years as chief executive at the Crusaders before moving on to the NZRU, said he was disappointed, but not altogether surprised, by Haden's outrageous claims.
Haden, who played 41 tests and 76 games for the All Blacks between 1972-85, initially made the allegations on Sky TV and reiterated then again today on national radio.
He said the Crusaders had a "quota" of three non-European, or "darkies" as he referred to them, in their recruitment policy of players.
"Once they've recruited three, that's it. That's their ceiling. Three darkies ... no more," said Haden. "It's enshrined in their articles, and they've stuck by that."
The allegations have been hotly refuted by Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach who called Haden comments "a fiction".
Tew was clearly not pleased that such assertions had been made, especially at a time when race-based selection has been a hot topic over the omission of Maori players from historic touring parties to South Africa.
The NZRU had recently apologised to all Maori players and their families affected by their non-selection in All Balcks terams because of adherence to requests from South Africa's apartheid regime.
The NZRU chief executive, who had been in a board meeting all day, claimed not to have heard the allegations made by Haden, but when told of their basis did not hold back with his response.
"Given you've informed me Andy Haden made them, I'm not surprised," said Tew in his monthly teleconference with media. "I haven't heard the conversations, but I was privileged enough to spend six years in Hamish's chair myself. If he was making the allegations about the period of time I was there, I would refute them and say they were insulting."
Asked why he wasn't surprised Haden had made such assertions, Tew replied: "Because he often makes comments that have no foundation in fact, are inflammatory and are made for effect."
Told that Haden had claimed to have had "sources" that confirmed the "policy", Tew was equally emphatic.
"I worked there for six years and there was never any mention of any racial or any other selection process other than players of the best ability to perform in the jersey that people are very proud of."
Tew said it was disappointing when anyone of standing in the community said things "not based on fact" and even questioned Haden's recent government appointment as one of six World Cup "ambassadors" for 2011.
"I thought the six people they picked to be the ambassadors are a good balanced group, but those comments might make one consider that appropriateness," he said.
Added Tew: "All I would say is from what I know from my time down there and from the people I know down there now, I would find that very difficult to believe and insulting."
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