Nothing 'sinister' in listening device discovery

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

ARU CEO Bill Pulver says the ‘sideshow’ that last week’s discovery of a listening device in the All Blacks hotel was a match day distraction, but little more.

Pulver said the news had surprised him as much as anyone else.

"I think sideshow is probably a good description frankly," he said.

"To think of listening devices in the world of rugby is not something we would expect, it's not something I've ever heard of and now it's in the hands of police."

The NZRU reportedly discovered the device on the Monday but failed to report it to police until the day of the game, a move Pulver put down to ‘shock’ rather than anything else.

“I don't think there was anything sinister about it,” he said.

“I think it was probably shock. (They thought), ‘Hang on there's a device in our world, that’s unexpected, what do we do with this?’ and a bit of a delayed reaction to hand it over to the police.

“I think in retrospect they probably would have handed it over to the police a lot earlier than they did but I think like me they were probably shocked by that outcome.

Pulver was happy with how Steve Tew handled the bug situation. Photo: Getty Images“It is what it is an it's in the hands of the police now and if anyone's actually planted it there I sincerely hope they find them.”

Pulver said NZRU CEO Steve Tew showed him a photo of the device, reportedly found in the foam lining of a chair in New Zealand’s team room at the Intercontinental Hotel Double Bay.

“We always have an Australian Rugby Union and New Zealand Rugby Union board dinner the night before the Test and literally at about 10 o’clock that night, Steve showed me a photograph of this funny little device that looked like two batteries with a little wire, pretty innocuous,” he said.

“He said at this point they were confident that it wasn't going to be an issue for public exposure.

“Then of course the next morning he rang me and in fairness to Steve, most apologetic, that it had been released to the public.

“He was a bit embarrassed about that and we both agreed on the Friday night that it should be handed over the police.”

Michael Hooper still believes the Wallabies can win this weekend .Photo: ARU media/Stu WalmsleyThe news emerged on the day of the Bledisloe opener and while the NZRU did not point the finger at the Wallabies, they didn’t rule out the possibility of accusing their opposition until after the match.

Pulver said the timing was disruptive but was satisfied that the ARU was never involved.

“I was shocked because I'd never heard of the concept of listening devices in the world of rugby.

“Those behaviours are not typical in our game.

“I knew we had nothing to do with it. I was disappointed that it came out on game day because i thought it was an unnecessary distraction but Steve Tew...I think he handled it perfectly.”

While the Australians don’t routinely sweep rooms for bugs, and it’s something Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says they would never consider, Pulver said the All Blacks weren’t paranoid to complete security checks.