The Crusaders Super 14 rugby franchise has angrily denied claims by former All Blacks captain Andy Haden that it limits squad recruitment to three non-white players.
Haden made the explosive claims during a panel discussion on Sky TV’s Deaker on Sport programme, suggesting the Crusaders selected their squad along racial lines.
“Once they’ve recruited three, that’s it. That’s their ceiling. Three darkies… no more,” Haden said.
“In the Crusaders manual, there it is, it’s enshrined in their articles, and they’ve stuck by that. And they know damn well that that’s the case. And it’s worked.”
Haden, who played 117 matches for the All Blacks between 1972-85 including 41 tests, didn’t back down when approached on Thursday about his claims, saying it was a policy that had been very successful for the seven-time Super rugby champions.
Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach was stunned when asked for his reaction, and challenged Haden to back up his claims.
“The whole damn thing is a fiction. It’s completely untrue. I don’t know what he is referring to. It’s utterly untrue. It makes no sense to me,” Riach told Radio Sport.
“Our mission statement doesn’t say that. It’s an extraordinary claim that isn’t based on any fact. I hope the story stops here with this denial.”
The Crusaders team, who were beaten in the semifinals by the Bulls last weekend, included Pacific Islanders Kahn Fotuali’i, Robbie Fruean and Ti’i Paulo.