Dave Di Somma: Crusaders' 'independent investigation' cynical or sensible?

OPINION: The decision to appoint an independent investigator to look into the Crusaders' alleged off-field indiscretions can be viewed two ways.

Is it Crisis Management 101, a cynical way to stop the controversy in its tracks? Or is it a fair and responsible way to try to find the truth?

What a short and action-packed tenure it has been for Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge. He's only been in the job for about six months, but this week's dramas follow the debate around the Crusaders name, and whether it should be changed or not, after the mosque shootings.

Mansbridge conducted himself well at yesterday's press conference, as he was peppered with questions about Richie Mo'unga's drunken antics and the incident at McDonald's in Cape Town, where George Bridge was accused of homophobic slurs and/or gestures.

Mansbridge described it as a "he-says, she-says" and "he-says, he-says" situation, and that's where the problem lies.  The truth is hard to come by, especially when late nights and alcohol are involved, and many of the allegations are via social media.  

At Christchurch airport on Monday night, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson had indicated that Bridge would front the media the following day and explain what happened.  He said Bridge had "nothing to hide". 

But when push came to shove and the media minders got involved, Bridge was not made available and Mansbridge fronted the media on the team's behalf instead.

Top lawyer Steph Dyhrberg will now look into the matters at the request of both the Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby.  It will no doubt be a complex matter and there's no timeline on when a report will be made, although it's likely to be a few weeks. 

What it does do, in the meantime, is give the Crusaders some breathing space. If Dyhrberg was not involved, then the team would be hounded by media at every opportunity for the next few weeks.

Now the players and coaches will simply say: "There is a process at play here and we will not be commenting further, because we don't want to pre-empt what Steph Dyhrberg is doing."

A similar approach has been adopted around the calls for a Crusaders name change. In that instance, Mansbridge employed a research company to look into all aspects of the issue and report back, and in the meantime,  they would refrain from commenting further.

For Crusaders management and team, it's the perfect scenario. The team can get on with playing rugby, starting with the Blues at home this weekend.

So, is Dyhrberg's involvement cynical or sensible? Maybe it's both.

Dave Di Somma is Newshub's Christchurch-based sports reporter.