Super Rugby 2019: Crusaders order independent review of South African accusations

The Crusaders have enlisted an independent review of incidents that have rocked the Super Rugby franchise during their just-completed trip to South Africa.

Chief executive Colin Mansbridge was called to address two separate allegations of misbehaviour over the past week in Cape Town, where the defending champions were held to a draw by the home-team Stormers.

Wing George Bridge was accused of homophobic slurs against patrons at a McDonald's outlet after the game, while All Blacks first-five Richie Mo'unga has also been implicated in a case of spitting and groping in a bar.

"Given the events of the last few days, in conjunction with NZR, we've decided to appoint an independent complaint process to review the allegations that have been made," Mansbridge told media in Christchurch on Tuesday.

"At the moment, we're in a bit of a 'he-said, she-said' situation and it's difficult to uncover what actually happened.

"We think an independent investigation with Steph Dyhrberg, a pretty reputable QC, is probably our best way forward." 

The Crusaders team arrived back in Christchurch early this morning, with coach Scott Robertson claiming Bridge was "really upset" over the claims against him. 

"I've spoken to the players involved this morning and they are clearly gutted," says Mansbridge. "They're looking to co-operate fully with the investigation."

Since the McDonald's incident came to light, the earlier encounter between Mo'unga and a female bar patron has also surfaced.

"In the case of the second event in Cape Town [Bridge], I don't think there's any discussion of alcohol," says Mansbridge. "In the case of the first, the term 'intoxication' was used.

"I don't think, from the reports I've heard, it was out of control."

Mansbridge has listened to reports from players, management and team security, as well as other patrons and security staff who witnessed the McDonald's incident.

"They've suggested there were no homophobic statements made," he says. "We're going to invite both complainants to contact Steph directly."

He acknowledges the allegations against Mo'unga are also very serious.

"The allegations, if proven correct, are a concern."

Mansbridge confirmed all the players involved would be available for selection this week against the Blues.

The incidents are likely to spark changes to how the Crusaders - and other NZ teams - operate on tour, particularly in South Africa.

"Whenever something happens, you always have to stop and say, 'what could we do better and differently?'," says Mansbridge. "Absolutely, we'll be having a think about that.

"We'd like the outcome of Steph's investigation, but we've already started talking about what were the team rules and protocols."