Filipo assault: NZ Rugby admit they got it wrong

Losi Filipo
Losi Filipo

For the second time this month the New Zealand Rugby Union is in damage control.

First, it was the scandal involving the Chiefs and their inappropriate behaviour with strippers; now the Losi Filipo assault case has again sullied the New Zealand Rugby's public image.

General manager Neil Sorensen told Newshub today New Zealand Rugby "didn't know about the severity of the case that Filipo was charged with, and we should have done".

"If we'd known the severity of it we'd have acted differently."

After being grilled on the Paul Henry programme this morning, New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew made contact with one of Filipo's victims, Kelsey Odell.

What Tew told Odell shocked her mother, Karen.

"The first thing he said was, 'You're getting a lot of publicity. You enjoying it?' Straight away I was like, what?"

But Odell says by the end of the conversation Tew was making the right noises.

"He said Losi seriously needs some help and we have to do something about it."

Tew then flew out of the country to London, leaving Sorenson to take the lead for New Zealand Rugby by meeting some of the victims' parents in Porirua.

"We had a great meeting - a very good meeting - this morning for a coffee for over an hour," says Sorenson.

"We shared lots as parents. We shared with them our apologies. It was a horrible thing for their kids to go through, and again said sorry."

The families want more than just money from New Zealand Rugby; they want them to vet new players in the same way police check on new recruits.

"If they do that with rugby, they're setting higher standards for these boys," says Karen.

Meanwhile Filipo has headed to Taupo with his girlfriend, but he told his family he's anxious about the future.

The office of the Solicitor-General says it is taking the matter very seriously and the family are welcome to submit any new information they have.

Newshub.

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