Canterbury Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has defended his players against accusations of homophobic behavior, saying an altercation in a Cape Town fast-food restaurant was due to a misunderstanding over a “selfie.”
The Super Rugby champions on Monday said that three players, team management and a South African-based security adviser were present during the incident, but all “strongly” denied accusations on social media that the players directed homophobic slurs and gestures at patrons.
Arriving back in New Zealand late on Monday, Robertson said Crusaders and All Blacks winger George Bridge was one of the players involved and was “extremely, authentically genuine” that nothing untoward was said.
“George said: ‘Mate, I just want to have a photo with you’... There was no interaction with anyone else,” Robertson told reporters. “That’s where the misinterpretation came. A selfie gone wrong, really. [Bridge] just can’t understand how it’s got to this platform.”
A local Twitter user on Monday posted an account of the incident that accused the players of being “physically intimidating” and mocking his friends with high-pitched voices and homophobic gestures.
The incident followed the Crusaders’ 19-19 draw with the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday.
A Cape Town man who identified himself as a friend of the accusers told New Zealand media that he had asked one of the players why he was filming his friend with his smartphone.
“He then said: ‘Well, we look funny,’” the man, Jeremy, told Radio New Zealand.
“We asked him to delete the videos and then he said he already deleted them,” Jeremy said. “Then we asked him to show us he deleted them and he said: ‘Make me.’ It was then when his teammates started laughing and got their phones out.”
“I am speaking for the queer community of South Africa and Cape Town in voicing that we are tired of these experiences,” he added.
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