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New Zealand club rugby player arrested on intent to commit rape charge

The Guardian The Guardian 12/10/2016 Tom Bryant
An unnamed Mid Canterbury player has been arrested and charged with assault with intent to commit rape. © AFP/Getty Images An unnamed Mid Canterbury player has been arrested and charged with assault with intent to commit rape.

While New Zealand rugby is going from strength to strength on the pitch, another incident off the field of play has seriously tarnished the reputation of sport in the county.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that an unnamed Mid Canterbury player was arrested on 2 October this year and charged with assault with intent to commit rape. The player will appear before the district court on 31 October and it is understood the incident occurred after Mid Canterbury played East Coast in Ruatoria.

New Zealand Rugby’s chief executive Steve Tew said the organisation was aware of the allegation but were not able to comment due to a court order. The Mid Canterbury rugby union chief executive Ian Patterson said he would not comment on matters before a court.

It has been a tumultuous period for New Zealand rugby. On Wednesday, the former New Zealand players Dan Carter and Joe Rokocoko attended a French Rugby Federation anti-doping hearing along with their Racing 92 team-mate Juan Imhoff after traces of corticosteroids were found in their urine samples. Racing 92 denied that Carter, Rokocoko and Imhoff – a wing for Argentina – breached anti-doping rules while Carter and Rokocoko’s agent said they had been granted therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for the prescribed medication and there are no suggestions any of the players did anything wrong.

However, while the All Blacks side have been praised for their stunningly successful rugby on the pitch, with their latest victory a thrilling 57-15 annihilation of South Africa, they have been hit by successive scandals off it. The scrum-half Aaron Smith tearfully admitted to a “huge mistake” after been sent home from South Africa after “breaching team standards regarding behaviour” following revelations he had walked into a disabled toilet cubicle with a “female friend” at Christchurch Airport.

In August, a dancer hired to perform at the Hamilton-based Chiefs’ rugby club event told New Zealand radio she was groped between her legs, had gravel thrown at her and was verbally abused. Margaret Comer, the corporate services executive of the Chiefs’ sponsor, Gallagher, defended the players, saying: “If a woman takes her clothes off and walks around in a group of men, what are we supposed to do if one of them tries to touch her?”

There was anger in September when Losi Filipo, a promising player with Wellington Lions, was not convicted over charges of assaulting four people including two women. New Zealand police challenged the verdict and Filipo’s contract with Wellington was ended by mutual agreement.

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