Fri, Mar 21, 2014 - Page 19 News List

N Zealand rugby denies cover-up of All Blacks’ pills

Reuters, WELLINGTON

The All Blacks’ Cory Jane, left, and Israel Dagg make “snow angels” in confetti as they celebrate beating France to win the Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, on Oct. 23, 2011.

Photo: Reuters

New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chief Steve Tew has denied accusations of a “cover-up” after revealing that All Blacks backs Cory Jane and Israel Dagg had misused sleeping pills in a “silly” competition ahead of their 2011 World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

The abuse of prescription drugs has been a hot issue in New Zealand after the country’s rugby league governing body said it was probing the national team after last year’s Rugby League World Cup in England.

Tew added fuel to the fire, saying Jane and Dagg, who were disciplined for drinking during the 2011 World Cup, had used sleeping pills on a big night out.

“At the time we struggled to understand how taking a sleeping pill could keep you up late at night and getting into trouble,” local media quoted Tew as saying yesterday. “It still seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?”

“They were drinking. There’s no question about that. At the time there was mention of sleeping pills, but the key was they were out past the curfew, they were drinking two or three days before the quarter-final,” Tew said.

“They let the team down, they let themselves down and it was dealt with... As I understand it, it was almost as silly as: ‘Let’s have some sleeping pills and see who can stay up the longest,’” he said.

During the World Cup, the All Blacks’ management said Dagg and Jane had been disciplined for drinking, but made no mention of their taking sleeping pills.

“It wasn’t a cover-up. These are private employment matters, too,” Tew said.

“Remember, we are bound by some stringent legislation as is everybody else in this country,” he said. “The incident that occurred that night was at a level where it was dealt with internally by the team.”

The All Blacks won the quarter-final against Argentina and went on to beat France in the final two weeks later.

Elite athletes across a range of sports take sleeping pills and prescription drugs to help them wind down after competition.

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