An independent report into claims of off-field misbehaviour during a Crusaders’ trip to South Africa has cleared one player and found insufficient evidence against another, New Zealand Rugby said Monday.
NZR said there would be no disciplinary action against George Bridge or Richie Mo’unga, both of whom are expected to play in the Super Rugby final against Argentina’s Jaguares on Saturday.
Bridge was accused of making homophobic slurs at a Cape Town fast-food restaurant during the Crusaders’ visit to South Africa in May, while Mo’unga allegedly spat beer on a woman and pinched her bottom in a separate incident in the same city.
NZR Head of Rugby Nigel Cass said an investigation by Wellington solicitor Steph Dyhrberg found the allegations against Bridge were not upheld.
While Mo’unga admitted drinking and “poor” behaviour on the night in question, the probe did not find evidence that substantiated the claims against him, Cass said.
“Given the seriousness of these allegations, and the potential consequences, we needed to be confident that what was alleged, actually took place, and we weren’t,” he said.
Cass said Mo’unga had acknowledged his actions did not meet expectations and apologised.
The governing body did not release Dyhrberg’s report or detail specifics of the behaviour that prompted Mo’unga’s apology.
The Crusaders said they were reviewing post-match activities, alcohol and social media use.
“This whole case serves as a reminder to all our teams, managers, coaches and players and staff that their behaviour has to be of the highest standard at all times,” Cass said.
Mo’unga, 24, has played nine Tests and is widely tipped to be part of the All Blacks’ World Cup squad as back-up to Beauden Barrett.
Bridge, 23, is a fringe international who has played one Test, against Japan last year