NZ Rugby shocked as player admits rape intent

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 05:11
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NEWS: New Zealand Rugby (NZR) expressed shock Thursday after a provincial player pleaded guilty in court to assault with intent to rape.

Mid-Canterbury player Koli Tamanitoakula pleaded guilty in Gisborne District Court on Wednesday and will reportedly be sentenced in June.

The attack reportedly occurred about 04.00 NZDT on October 16 in downtown Gisborne after Tamanitoakula's team had played a match in the town.

It is the latest off-field scandal to plague New Zealand rugby and threatens to overshadow the launch of the Super Rugby season this week.

"New Zealand Rugby expects players at all levels of the game to act with basic decency and within the law," NZR Chief Executive Steve Tew said.

"We are shocked by Koli's actions and our thoughts go out to his victim."

Mid-Canterbury Rugby Chief Ian Patterson said he was "appalled" at Tamanitoakula.

NZR set up a review to examine ways of curbing rugby's macho culture and improving attitudes to women last year in response to a series of off-field incidents.

It started when a stripper alleged she was groped and demeaned during a Chiefs' player function. 

An internal NZR review cast doubt on her story and cleared the players, but women's groups said the investigation smacked of victim blaming. 

Then it emerged a teenage rugby star escaped conviction after viciously assaulting four people, including two women, in an unprovoked attack on a Wellington street.

NZR initially stood by the player before backtracking and agreeing to terminate his contract amid a massive public backlash. 

Just as the furore was dying down, the All Blacks were forced to discipline scrumhalf Aaron Smith over a tryst with a mystery woman in a disabled toilet cubicle at busy Christchurch Airport.

Agence France-Presse