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NZRU to 'cooperate fully' with S. Africa rape probe

By AFP

WELLINGTON (AFP) - The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) on Tuesday pledged to fully cooperate with a South African police investigation following an allegation that a member of its under-20s team raped a woman.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said one player, and possibly also a teammate who was rooming with him, had provided DNA to police investigating the alleged incident.

The allegations were made on Saturday after a 22-year-old Cape Town woman said she was raped on Friday night, following the team's loss to South Africa in the Junior World Championship.

"Both players and management cooperated fully with the authorities in South Africa," Tew told Radio New Zealand.

"We did not leave South Africa until we had their permission to do so and if there's any further assistance they require we'll continue to cooperate fully.

"It's an incredibly serious matter, both for the alleged victim and for the alleged perpetrator," he added.

Tew said the under-20 team, also known as the Baby Blacks, were given advice on how to behave before travelling to the tournament, where they lost 22-16 to South Africa in the final of the IRB Junior World Championship at Newlands stadium in Cape Town.

"Our guys get a lot of advice in this area, we have team protocols in place," he said.

"The fact that it appears a young woman was taken to one of the players' bedrooms is a direct breach of that protocol."

South African police spokesman Vish Naidoo said reports in South Africa that four Baby Blacks players were involved in the incident were unfounded.

Naidoo said the woman who made the allegations told police she had been drinking and remembered little about what happened.

"The woman said she did not have any recollection of exactly what happened," he told Radio New Zealand in a telephone interview from South Africa.

"There are processes we will be following to help her."

Forensic experts combed the Southern Sun Hotel Newlands on Saturday for DNA evidence in a hushed investigation, South Africa's The New Age newspaper reported Monday.

Hotel staff told the newspaper the woman came to the hotel Friday night and told the front desk she was visiting a cousin. She knew the players were staying at the hotel and had apparently met them before.

"According to some of my colleagues she was apparently drunk. And on Saturday morning she called her parents to fetch her at the hotel after claims that she was raped," a hotel employee told the publication.

"Her parents insisted on opening a case of rape. We are not certain that she was raped, but there was blood found on a sheet on a bed."

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