All Blacks bugging scandal: Five-day delay ‘far from ideal’, says Malcolm Speed

Listening device: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. Photo: Christopher PearceThe failure of New Zealand Rugby to hold off telling police for five days that a hidden listening device was found in a team meeting room is “far from ideal” from an anti-corruption perspective, according to Malcolm Speed, one of Australia’s most high profile sporting administrators.
Nanjing Night Net

There is still mystery surrounding exactly who planted the listening device in a chair in an All Blacks team meeting room at their InterContinental Hotel in Double Bay.

Police are continuing their investigations into the matter, however they are still perplexed as to why they found out via a media report and not from either the hotel or New Zealand Rugby.

One of the theories being tossed around, whilst speculative, is that someone may have been trying to obtain information for betting purposes.

While nothing has been confirmed by police at this stage, Speed, a former chief executive of the International Cricket Committee and current executive director of the Australian Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, said the fact no alarm bells were raised in the five days between Monday and the story appearing on Saturday, given the spotlight on all sports at the moment, was questionable.

“If one of the possibilities is that it’s linked to betting or corruption, it’s less than ideal that it wasn’t reported immediately,” Speed told Fairfax Media. “In cricket we were alert to issues like this and asked to report it to the local authorities immediately.

“From an anti-corruption perspective, it’s not ideal.”

When told World Rugby had distanced themselves from the matter, saying it is not an issue for them, Speed said: “It’s appropriate that New Zealand and Australia deal with it in the first instance. Their boards are very competent; they’ll have people who can deal with it.

“It’s important that those two boards help the police investigate as to why it’s happened and rule out any link to corrupt activity.”

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was asked after his side’s 42-8 win over the Wallabies in Sydney why there was a delay in contacting authorities.

“The reason we didn’t go there [to police] straight away was because we went through a process with the hotel and then our CEO was away at the Olympics and he arrived and he needed to be spoken to and be properly briefed on it,” Hansen said.

“That’s the process we go through. Whether it was right or wrong is irrelevant, it’s what’s happened and we will have to accept that and deal with it.”

Paul Walters, the hotel’s general manager, said they were assisting police and “as this is an ongoing investigation, we are not at liberty to provide any further details”.

The sport’s main organising body, SANZAR, was not informed until Saturday.  SANZAR has asked New Zealand Rugby and all parties involved to provide as much information as possible.

“We’re trying to get all the facts for our own records,” a SANZAR spokesperson said.

One component of the story that has perplexed many is why the All Blacks were even searching for a device.

Some have gone so far as to say last year’s World Cup champions are paranoid, but assistant coach Ian Foster refuted such suggestions, saying: “you can kick that word for touch”.

“All teams are protective of the way they want to go about things and so that’s just something we’ve done occasionally for obvious reasons,” he said.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has done his best to distance his team from the matter, saying unless the All Blacks had explicitly blamed the Australians for something in the mould of espionage, he had no problems.

He did, however, say the Wallabies would not be paying to have their rooms checked when they arrive in Wellington on Wednesday.

“If someone wants to go to that extreme [to check for devices] then let them go,” Cheika said. “Whatever they want to do is their thing. It’s not ever been an issue for me that I’d be worried about someone doing it to us. I’m not that big on the whole thing.”

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