Rugby Championship

All Blacks bugged ahead of Wallabies Test

2016-08-20 07:00
Steve Tew (AFP)

Wellington - A sophisticated bugging device has been found in an All Blacks' hotel meeting room ahead of their Test against Australia in Sydney, officials confirmed on Saturday.

The device was planted inside a chair and found during a routine sweep of the room in the lead up to the opening Rugby Championship clash on Saturday night, with police called in to investigate.

"A listening device was found in a meeting room this week during a routine security check," New Zealand Rugby (NZR) chief executive Steve Tew said.

"The hotel immediately launched an investigation, we have informed the Australian Rugby Union, and jointly we have now decided to hand over the investigation to the Australian police.

"We are taking this issue very seriously, and given it will be a police matter, it would not be prudent to go into further details."

New South Wales Police are due to address the media later on Saturday, saying in a statement the press conference would relate to "a listening device... located in a room at a hotel in Double Bay on Monday, August 15".

"Inquiries are continuing," police said in the statement, adding that they were only made aware of the allegation on Saturday.

An Australian Rugby Union spokesman made no comment.

But ARU chief executive Bill Pulver told the New Zealand Herald there was no way his organisation had anything to do with the device.

"Of course (the ARU is not involved). It is completely ludicrous. I just think it's a ludicrous concept that there are listening devices being placed in team rooms. I don't know how that could happen," Pulver was quoted as saying.

"I'm utterly disappointed the story would break on match day and frankly, that's all I've got to say. We are going to focus on a game of rugby that we've got tonight and we will deal with this matter after the rugby."

A spokesman for the Intercontinental Sydney Double Bay hotel where the All Blacks were staying said management was investigating the New Zealand team's complaint.

The device - described as similar to that used by law enforcement and spying agencies - was found inside a chair in the hotel on Monday, a day after the All Blacks arrived.

The foam of the seat appeared to have been deliberately and carefully cut to make way for the surveillance device and then sewn or glued back together to be almost undetectable, according to the New Zealand Herald.

It was discovered after team management asked the security detail looking after them in Australia to sweep the room for bugs.

The Herald said it had been told that hiding the device "was a highly skilled and meticulous act and whoever put it there would have needed a significant amount of time to have pulled off such an accomplished job."

Read more on:    all blacks  |  rugby championship  |  rugby
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