Coronavirus: Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge insists bubble-bursting players have learned lesson

Despite almost universally condemnation by everyone outside their bubble, Cruasders players will face no further action, after Newshub revealed they broke lockdown rules by training together.

On Tuesday, chief executive Colin Mansbridge leapt to the defence of his players, insisting they were merely clumsy in their actions rather than intentional. 

And he didn't stop there.

On Monday night, Mansbridge called an urgent meeting to remind all players of their responsibilities during lockdown, but has since dismissed suggestions he'd go any further in regards to punishment.

"It'd be interesting to see what sort of action you'd like taken against them," Mansbridge told Newshub. "Have you got any suggestions?

"I'm not ruling out further education, but if you're looking for a sanction, no."

On Tuesday, star first-five Richie Mo'unga took to social media to apologise for his part in the incident, claiming it was a total "coincidence" that the players were at the venue at the same time.

Mansbridge was adamant Mo'unga, in particular, had not breached the rules, aside from being videoed passing a ball back to others.

"Richie was a fair way away," said Mansbridge. "There were dog walkers and other people walking."  

And he immediately went on the defensive, when further questioned over the fact there were three separate bubbles involved in the incident.

"Are you saying that you don't ever want to see a Crusader on Melvern Park?" Mansbridge replied. "Because if that's what you're asking, then we'll do that to satisfy you.

"You're trying to make a story out of this and make it worse than it is."

The public condemnation was both swift and scathing, which Mansbridge admitted was "very uncomfortable".

NZ Rugby didn't ease that comfort, slamming the players' inability to follow lockdown rules.

"The lockdown rules are very simple," said CEO Mark Robinson. "If you exercise, it must be solitary or with those you live with. 

"Some of the Crusaders players have not followed these rules and that is unacceptable. 

"We have reminded everyone involved in rugby that they must abide by the New Zealand Government Covid-19 guidelines and this situation must not happen again."

Prime Minister Jacina Ardern also weighed in on the matter.

"It flies directly in the face of the advice that we're giving," she said. 

"We're really asking for those leaders in our sporting codes to join us. We can't do it by ourselves."

Mansbridge insists the players know their actions cannot be repeated.

"I don't know many times I have to tell you... for that we are contrite and sorry, and it's a bad look. I am sorry for that."

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