New Zealand Rugby has given formal warnings to Chiefs players involved in a controversial Mad Monday celebration, after officially wrapping up their investigation.
The investigation was opened after a stripper named Scarlette accused a group of Waikato players of forcefully touching her after negotiating to perform an extra sexual act on her after a performance.
NZR CEO Steve Tew said the investigation, which involved nine independent witnesses, found that while all the acts were consensual and legal, they were not condoned.
“The whole incident has been incredibly disturbing and it is clear that poor decision making on a number of fronts has led to these players and Chiefs’ management putting themselves in a position of vulnerability,” he said in a statement.
“The investigation was never about the women at the centre of these allegations. Our microscope was very much on the players, their conduct and that of the management structure behind them.
“We have high expectations of all our players and staff, that when they enter this environment, there are many benefits, but the job also comes with responsibilities.”
Tew said any more incidents like this would result in punishments.
“We will work with the Chiefs and New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA) to look at the best way forward, in terms of education and regaining the trust and confidence of commercial partners and fans,” he said.
In the findings of the investigation, the NZR said witnesses had said players were standing and sitting around Scarlette, but not “crowding around” her and hadn’t seen anyone expose themselves.
A second stripper came out alleging that she felt intimidated after being touched inappropriately by a group of Chiefs players in their 2015 Mad Monday function, though NZR said those were unfounded.
New Zealand Rugby Players Association CEO Rob Nichol said the players were apologetic about the events.
“The players are sorry and publicly apologise for putting the Chiefs and New Zealand Rugby in this position.
“The players also wish to apologise to the women. Ultimately it was the players’ decisions that instigated the whole series of events and regardless of the investigations findings we know that the attention and scrutiny received in these situations can be personally very challenging.
“We also recognise that despite the education and support provided to players they will at times make compromised decisions.
“We know it’s important to take responsibility when mistakes are made, and to learn from them. We accept the outcomes and formal caution in full, and will now focus on helping the Chiefs club to restore confidence.”