Image:Rugby Union – New Zealand Press Conference – Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, Surrey – 27/10/15 Victor Vito of New Zealand during a press conference Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne
By Greg Stutchbury
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – All Blacks Cory Jane, Victor Vito and Julian Savea have been dropped by the Wellington Hurricanes for their Super Rugby clash against the Queensland Reds after breaking a curfew last week in South Africa, the team said on Thursday.
The trio, along with flanker Ardie Savea and prop Chris Eves, were punished after getting back late to the team hotel last Tuesday before the Hurricanes played the Sharks on Saturday in Durban.
The South African side beat the Hurricanes 32-15.
Coach Chris Boyd told reporters at a Hurricanes training session on Thursday the players themselves had agreed on a curfew for their two matches in South Africa.
The five had “marginally missed” the cut-off time having gone out for the evening.
“In Durban there is a lot of potential for distraction,” he said. “The beaches are good, the climate is good, the food is good and everything is cheap. And they had been warned about those distractions.
“Subsequently on the Tuesday, which was the night before our day off, five players marginally missed that curfew. They were bound by the team protocols and will miss one game.”
Boyd refused to reveal the exact time of the curfew but said the players had been back before midnight.
“This was a one out of 10 offence with a 10 out of 10 punishment,” he added. “But a protocol is still a protocol.”
He was unsure if the five players had been drinking, but said the team considered alcohol not to be an issue and the punishment had been for not getting back in time.
“We don’t discourage consumption of alcohol,” he said. “They’re grown men and they make their own decisions. The reason why they have been stood down is not alcohol related.”
Boyd said the reason they did not miss the match against the Sharks was that the team only had 27 players in South Africa. Dropping the five would have meant the Hurricanes could not have fielded a match-day complement of 23.
“The maths just didn’t work,” he added.
The five players had apologised to the team and management and were ‘bitterly disappointed’ not to be playing on Saturday against the Reds at Wellington Regional Stadium, said Boyd.
“None of them are happy they have made a poor error of judgement,” he said.
“We have talked internally that it shouldn’t be a distraction. We know there will be extra scrutiny so we’re determined to put a performance on back at the Cake Tin.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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