Lockdown bust: What the TV didn't show
REACTION: Under-fire All Black Richie Mo’unga moved swiftly to clear up some misconceptions over the Crusaders’ breaking of New Zealand’s lockdown regulations.
New Zealand Rugby had condemned several Crusaders players who were caught flouting the strict lockdown rules by training together at a Christchurch park.
Five players from the Super Rugby champions, including the All Black flyhalf, Mo’unga, were photographed passing a ball and going through training drills together on Monday.
The Crusaders admitted the players were from several households – which are supposed to remain separate under New Zealand’s lockdown rules.
Speaking on his Instagram account, Mo’unga apologised for not being a role model.
However, he was also adamant that the various media reports didn’t tell the whole story.
“As many of you would’ve seen yesterday [Monday], there was footage of me picking up a ball and chucking it back to some of the other lads,” he said on an Instagram post on Tuesday.
“I just want to speak about what happened and clear a few things up.
“Some things that I think are important to know and also some things that were forgotten to be mentioned on the news last [Monday] night.
“I want to start off by saying this was not an organised training.
“There were no communications beforehand saying that we should train in this park together. It was by coincidence that I rocked up and they were there training.
“In fact, they were there just finishing up their session. My local park is that local park and our training schedules are the same so we run on the same days. It just so happened to be it was the same time.
“As I arrived I [talked] to the boys from afar, asking how they were and got ready for my running session.
“As I had finished one of my running sessions, the ball had been kicked over and instinctively I went and picked the ball up and threw it back to them.
“I will say that was the only interaction I had with them apart from talking to them. It was something that was so instinctive for me to do – to pick the ball up and throw it back to them. I didn’t think twice about it. It was something that happened fast.
“It’s something that I’ve learnt that even [though it was] my natural instincts, it’s something I need to be more careful of and I will be more careful of.”
Richie Mo’unga apologises for incident with Crusaders teammates.
He says it was “not an organised training”, “a coincidence”, and touching the ball was “instinctive”. pic.twitter.com/RKvOUUYKx4
— Andrew Gourdie (@AndrewGourdie) April 6, 2020
It appears the players will not face further punishment, with Crusaders Chief Executive Colin Mansbridge saying their actions were not deliberate.
He said players from separate households who lived close to the park happened to turn up at the park around the same time and began passing a ball around.
“It was clumsy and not wilful… we’re not happy, they’re not happy and they are contrite,” he told Radio New Zealand.
“We are sorry, it was something we did not envisage.”