England team silent over NZ hotel claim - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

England team silent over NZ hotel claim

19/06/2008 06:26:57 PM Comments (0)

The England rugby team have closed ranks and refused to comment on the uproar surrounding a "serious allegation" against four players at a luxury Auckland hotel.

England captain Steve Borthwick spoke to the media in Christchurch but refused to comment on the police investigation, saying the team's attention was entirely on Saturday's second Test against the All Blacks.

"When you've got a game against the All Blacks at the weekend the focus is very clear," he said.

"The players have worked tremendously hard in training. We will provide a better performance and a better account of ourselves this weekend."

Borthwick referred any questions over the alleged incident at Auckland's waterfront Hilton Hotel early on Sunday to acting head coach Rob Andrew, but the coach stayed silent.

Police also refused to comment, although state-owned Television New Zealand reported that detectives did not get to question the four players allegedly involved, but have asked the England management to speak to them.

The nature of the alleged incident itself remained unclear, with both police and England management refusing to discuss the claims.

The incident allegedly occurred just hours after England were beaten by the All Blacks in the first Test.

Auckland police communications manager Noreen Hegarty declined to comment except to say it was unknown how long the police investigation would take. "It's an ongoing investigation and it will take its course.

"It depends what the investigation throws up."

Police said Wednesday the alleged offence in a private room was brought to their attention Sunday evening but no formal complaint had been made.

Hegarty would neither confirm nor deny a report by state-owned Television New Zealand on Wednesday quoting unnamed sources as saying the allegation related to the rape of a woman.

Andrew had confirmed the investigation in a brief statement on Wednesday but refused to take any questions at a press conference.

"Whilst no formal complaint has been made, we are cooperating with the police in their inquiries. In the circumstances, we are unable to make any further comment," he said.

"Can I simply add, the players concerned have the complete support of all players and management."

New Zealand press reports quoted a woman who claimed about five women returned to the Hilton Hotel with English players after drinking with them at an Auckland bar early Sunday.

The woman, whom the New Zealand Herald said wanted to be named only as "Angel Barbie", said she had no knowledge of the allegation under police investigation.

The 22-year-old woman told the Herald she stayed the night with a player and continued sleeping when the team went for a swim and physiotherapy.

Later when they returned, she heard a loud noise coming from the hall and about four players came into the room.

One grabbed the bed cover off her bed, exposing her half-dressed body, and ran down the hallway with the cover, the Herald reported.

"I think they were just sort of playing silly buggers and going round to all the rooms and seeing which girls were where," she reportedly said.

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