Troubled All Black Zac Guildford has been given another lifeline by the New Zealand Rugby Union and will rejoin the Crusaders.
That return comes with conditions – though the NZRU aren’t saying what those are.
Guildford has had a history of drinking problems including on the eve of the Rugby World Cup, a much publicised blowout while on holiday in Raraotonga and the latest, a preseason incident in Christchurch.
He has just completed a month-long rehabilitation programme.
Guildford and NZRU representatives will front a media session in Wellington this morning.
Confirmation of his return to rugby was made via a NZRU release today.
“This decision was not reached lightly or hastily, and follows a very thorough misconduct process and consultation with medical experts,” said Neil Sorenson, the NZRU’s general manager of professional rugby in a statement.
“We have had a full and frank discussion with Zac about the situation in which he finds himself, including his medical condition. Despite the serious misconduct, we found that there were sufficient mitigating circumstances to believe that Zac can continue to make a significant contribution to New Zealand Rugby provided that he observes the conditions and continues with his path to recovery.
“New Zealand Rugby and Zac have agreed that no further public statements will be made regarding the details of the misconduct hearing or the basis on which reinstatement has been granted,” Sorensen said.
“We will continue to work with the Zac and the Crusaders to help reintegrate Zac into life in rugby, and to ensure he has the best opportunity to continue giving to the game.”
Guildford said he had accepted that he had challenges that wouldl be with him for life and that it was up to him to continually work at managing them.
“To help me do that I will continue to take on board the friendship, advice and tools offered by the experts I have been fortunate enough to work with, and the support of those close to me: my family, friends and the wider rugby community,” Guildford said in the statement.
“These challenges are not something I want sympathy for, or mothering. I know I have to earn back the trust and respect of others and hope that my actions moving forward will achieve that.
I know I have apologised for my behaviour before and that people’s patience has grown thin. For that reason, I am hugely grateful that I have been given this opportunity to show that I really am serious about getting my life heading in the right direction.
“I appreciate it may well have been easier for the NZRU and Crusaders to terminate my employment, rather than continue to support me in the way they are. I want to thank them publically, and reward their faith in me and my recovery over time.”
The Crusaders play the Bulls in Christchurch on Saturday night. Guildford will have no involvement in that match.
The Crusaders, still searching for their first win and desperately needing class in their outside backs, play the new Southern Kings franchise the following week in Christchurch.
He is likely to be taken on a tough three-match tour that takes in games against the Stormers and Sharks in South Africa and the Western Force in Perth.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should there be golden point extra time in Super Rugby?Related story: (See story)