Baby Blacks rape claim

The NZRU is refusing to name the player at the centre of the Baby Blacks rape scandal.

A member of the New Zealand under-20 rugby team has voluntarily provided Cape Town police with a blood sample, fingerprints and a statement after a woman he was with made a rape allegation.

At a press conference this morning, union chief executive Steve Tew said the cloud hanging over the entire team was not fair but no changes had been laid against the player and it would not be right to put all the pressure on him.

The "upset" player and his family were being supported by the NZRU, said Tew, who has indicated the allegation was being taken "incredibly seriously".

The player had been with the 22-year-old woman during the night just hours after his team lost junior world championship final to South Africa, the NZRU has confirmed.

"An allegation of rape is as serious as it gets so the team both players and management cooperated fully with the authorities in South Africa," Tew told Radio New Zealand.

"We did not leave South Africa until we had their permission to so and if there's any further assistance they require we'll continue to cooperate fully.

"I understand at least one player provided some DNA samples to police. It may have been two, it may have been his room mate because that's the obvious connection that was made."

Although the woman had made the allegation, her statement was that she could not remember anything about the incident, including who the person involved was, according to information the NZRU had received from South African police.

Tew said advice would be sought if South African police needed to speak to players further.

"We'll have to work that through and we'll take advice from our government, because these things become a little more complicated with international law but our cooperation will absolutely be there," he said.

"We'll certainly review the situation at some point in time but right now, our focus is on making sure the police in South Africa have all the information and assistance they require to make sure this investigation is concluded their way.

"Clearly there are two sides that are very concerned about this and we need to make sure that they're both able to draw a conclusion as quickly as possible."

New Age journalist Det Wet Potgieter broke the story. Speaking to Newstalk ZB, he said when the woman came to the hotel she knew which room she was looking for.

"According to hotel personnel she knew exactly which hotel room to go to, and she may have met some of the rugby players at nearby night spots earlier that evening."

 The original report was it was a brutal attack, allegedly by four rugby players, Potgieper said.

"It turns out there may have been one person who could have been involved with the woman.''

Tew said it was inappropriate to comment on whether anything improper actually took place.

" We've got a situation that's incredibly sensitive. There are several accounts of the story. The police are investigating through witnesses and forensic evidence, for me to sit in New Zealand and speculate I don't think that would be very helpful."

Tew said touring New Zealand teams are well briefed about team off-field behaviour, which hadn't been adhered to in this case.

" It appears that a woman being taken back to one of the players bedrooms is a direct breach of the protocol. They have been given an awful lot of information and an awful lot of advice and we had a security arrangement in place.

"We take security in South Africa very seriously anyway, so there's a very experienced group of people to assist us while any of our teams are travelling. But unfortunately, when you have that many young men away on tour some things happened that you'd prefer not to. And now we're dealing with the consequences."

He said there would be disciplinary action for the breach of team protocol, however that was farthest from their minds while they were dealing with the rape allegation.

Cape Town police spokesman Colonel Vish Naidoo said police would now wait for results of forensic tests, which could take a month.

New Zealand Police national coordinator for forensic testing Jack Drummond said while he could not comment on procedure in South Africa, a month did seem like a long time to wait for forensic results to come back.

"It's quite a long time, but it all depends on what degree of priority they placed on it, what their workload is and what other priority cases they are working on."

The team and management complied with local police requirements and cooperated fully and helped with inquiries, after which police advised they were happy for all members of the team to travel home.

In Christchurch last night Baby Blacks head coach Rob Penney said he could not comment when spoken to by The Press.

A Southern Sun Hotel Newlands staff member originally told The New Age newspaper that a 22-year-old woman entered the hotel on Friday evening. She told the front desk that she was going to visit her cousin in one of the rooms.

"But it seems she met the rugby players somewhere earlier, because she knew what rooms they were staying in," the staff member told the newspaper.

"According to some of my colleagues she was apparently drunk. And on Saturday morning she called her parents to fetch her at the hotel after claims that she was raped.

"Her parents insisted on opening a case of rape. We are not certain that she was raped, but there was blood found on a sheet on a bed. The rugby players left the hotel at 12am on Saturday."

The New Zealand squad for the tournament was:

Forwards: Fraser Armstrong (Waikato), Hugh Blake (Otago), Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty), Jake Heenan (Auckland), Joe Latta (Wellington), Christian Lloyd (Wellington), Taniela Manu (Canterbury), Rhys Marshall (Hawke's Bay), Glenn Preston (North Harbour), Tuki Raimona (Southland), Nick Ross (Canterbury), Eric Sione (Wellington), Jordan Taufua (Canterbury), Jimmy Tupou (Countries Manukau), Ofa Tuungafasi (Auckland).

Backs: Pita Ahki (North Harbour), Ambrose Curtis (Wellington), Jason Emery (Manawatu), Scott Eade (Southland), Bryn Hall (North Harbour), Marnus Hanley (Waikato), Milford Keresoma (Auckland), Jono Kitto (Canterbury), Martin McKenzie (Soutland), Opetera Peleseuma (Wellington), Matt Proctor (Wellington), Junior Vaa Tofa (Auckland), Ihaia West (Hawke's Bay).

Taranaki Daily News