Super 14
Crusaders deny poaching claims
May 22, 2010
The Crusaders' Zac Guildford is congratulated after scoring a try, Crusaders v Brumbies, Super 14, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand, May 14, 2010
The Crusaders have been forced to deny that that they plan to poach South African talent © Getty Images

The Crusaders have denied reports that they plan to poach South Africa's rising rugby players.

The franchise has entered into a commercial licensing agreement with private sporting academy in Centurion, near Pretoria, also catering for soccer, golf and swimming. Reports stated the academy had been sending a letter to schools, detailing information about a "nationwide talent identification programme at an all-expenses paid training camp" run by the Crusaders near Pretoria in July.

It would cater for 60 under-16 players and reportedly be run by Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder and several members of the team. According to Supersport, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) has demanded that the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) intervenes to end such "horrifying" conduct.

"They have completely got the wrong end of the stick," Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach told The Press."To say we are intending to pinch their players is completely untrue."

Earlier reports contained excerpts from a letter sent by SARU to their New Zealand counterparts, while SARU chief Johan Prinsloo confirmed that a high level meeting had determined that the plans would be met with "anger and disgust".

"What we find frankly horrifying is the systematic and widespread targeting of young players in SA," the letter read. "We would therefore appreciate if you could intervene on our behalf with the Crusaders by passing on our concerns and asking them to cancel this expedition."

Riach said he was unaware of that correspondence and has heard nothing from the NZRU or the SARU. "The vast majority of players that attend the academy will be from South Africa," he said."It's not about us pinching any of their players to play for the Crusaders at all."


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