UPDATED: Crusaders management has denied claims on social media that the touring players targeted a group with ‘homophobic slurs, limp wrists and high pitched voices’.
Several members of The Crusaders rugby team have been accused of homophobia following an altercation with a group of young men in Cape Town, South Africa. The allegations, detailed on social media, include physical intimidation, homophobic slurs and filming without consent.
On Twitter, Cape Town resident Alexandros Patermimos shared in a note on Instagram that he entered the Kloof St McDonald’s with his friends and was “met with jeering and sniggers” from men they later identified as members of the travelling Crusaders team. The team had drawn with the South African Stormers earlier that evening.
The group say they were made to feel like “the butt of the joke” by another group of men who began filming them on their cellphones. “When catching them in the act,” the note read, “they told us they did it because we looked funny to them.” After asking that the men delete the video, the Crusaders group “began physically intimidating us, coming up to our faces, telling us we better stop arguing or they will ‘fuck us up if we don’t watch it’.”
When the group responded by “arguing that straight white men are losing power”, the players retorted with “homophobic slurs, limp wrists and high pitched voices”, he said.
After the young men began filming the Crusaders group, a man socialising with the players is shown in a video posted on Instagram and viewed by the Spinoff attempting to hit the phone out of the owner’s hands.
The account is one of several messages posted on social media drawing attention to the events. At least two players, including one All Black, are named. Many of the posts tag in the team account, players, Crusaders sponsors and media organisations.
In a separate thread on Twitter, another woman from Cape Town alleges that an unnamed player from The Crusaders spat beer on her in a bar, but added that she has approached him privately and he has “apologised profusely” for his actions.
The Crusaders did not respond to a Spinoff request for comment. In a statement, however, they said that while the altercation did take place, the events were not as described. “The three players, team management and the South African-based security advisor with them strongly refute the socialised account of what happened. They are devastated by the allegation and the implication of homophobic behaviour,” read the statement.
The Crusaders’ CEO, Colin Mansbringe, is quoted saying: “This is an organisation that is committed to inclusivity and is proud to have earned the Rainbow Tick certification. That is what makes these allegations particularly distressing.
“Given the serious nature of these allegations I will be meeting with the team management and players on their return to Christchurch. However, I am confident in the account we have received from the team and the security advisor who was present.”
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The two men who detailed the evening on their social media have also been contacted for further comment.
In 2017, NZ Rugby, the parent organisation of The Crusaders, was the first national sports body to be awarded a Rainbow Tick, in recognition of its work towards diversity and inclusion. Neil Sorenson, then general manager of rugby at NZ Rugby, said, “We’re hopeful that NZR’s focus on inclusion and diversity will go some way towards encouraging others associated with rugby to take steps to eliminate homophobia from our game, and ensure we’re inspiring and unifying all New Zealanders, irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, ability or sexual orientation.”
Australian rugby player Israel Folau was last week sacked by the Australian rugby union following repeated homophobic comments on social media.
Research published last month revealed that homophobic language remains rife in rugby on both sides of the Tasman.
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