WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand rugby has been labeled as “unacceptable” by a group of Canterbury Crusaders who violated the country’s strict coronavirus virus locking rules on Monday by training together in a local park.
The players, including All Blacks flyhalf Richie Mo’unga, were filmed practicing informally in Christchurch where they were shown keeping a distance but passing and kicking the ball between each other.
New Zealand’s national lock restricts people from leaving their homes except for important services such as food. They can exercise as individuals or with people in the same lockdown ‘bubble’.
“Some Crusader players do not follow this rule and that is not acceptable,” NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said in comments published by the New Zealand Herald on Tuesday.
“We have reminded everyone involved in rugby that they must abide by the New Zealand government’s COVID-19 guidelines and this situation should not happen again.”
The Crusaders, the 10-time Super Rugby champion, played down the offense on Monday night, but team chief executive Colin Mansbridge said they had reminded players of their responsibilities.
“All players involved have admitted that they made a mistake by sharing equipment,” Mansbridge said in a statement.
“This is a timely and valuable lesson for all.
“We have repeated the guidelines for the two groups directly involved, and our wider Crusader forces to ensure this does not happen again.”
The team said the players, two separate groups of flatmates, all lived within walking distance from the park and it was a coincidence that they were exercising at the same time.
“The club believes this is not an organized training session between groups,” the statement said.
“While these players make a conscious effort to observe physical distance, they share equipment by throwing and kicking football balls among themselves.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; editing by Richard Pullin)
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