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'He's a disgrace': Coach drops c-bomb at journo after prickly press conference, leaving CEO to clean up his mess

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22nd May, 2024
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The Crusaders have apologised on behalf of under-fire coach Rob Penney who was caught calling a reporter a “c–t” after a prickly press conference.

The former Waratahs coach replaced Scott Robertson in charge of Super Rugby’s most successful franchise and has led them to 10th on the table with two games to play.

Penney has dug in despite increasing questions over his tenure and he was noticeably agitated by that line of questioning in Wednesday’s press conference.

Penney was involved in a tense exchange with TVNZ reporter Thomas Mead.

Rob Penney. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

After the press conference finished, cameras and microphones were still rolling and caught the Crusaders coach making the comments.

“He’s a disgrace that c–t. Who’s he?” Penney asked a Crusaders staffer.

On Thursday, club CEO Colin Mansbridge released this statement.

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“The Crusaders held a media conference on Wednesday for the purpose of naming our team for the week and discussing the upcoming fixture against the Blues.

“A line of questioning was undertaken from a reporter present concerning Rob Penney’s future as Crusaders Head Coach. After the media conference had concluded, a private comment to a colleague was inadvertently recorded on third-party microphones, and Rob has since apologised to me for what was said.

“On behalf of the Crusaders organisation, I apologise for the comments he made regarding the reporter. I spoke to the reporter today and he has accepted our apology.”

At the press conference Penney rejected questions about his future.

“I love this group and I know what they’re capable of. You only have to reflect back to a few seasons ago. In 2001 the Crusaders, after winning three titles, finished 10th. Then they went unbeaten in 2002. The doom and gloom is not something we’re buying into,” Penney said.

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“I’m boxing on, same as always. As far as I know nothing has changed for me or any of the other staff. We’re already looking forward to next year because you’re always projecting ahead. It’s not character building it’s character revealing.

“You have to be a realist; you have to be positive and you have to try and be inspirational.

“The performances have been patchy but there’s been some great components to every week. We haven’t been far away we just haven’t been able to nail them.”

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He rejected talk of a potential director of rugby role at the club – moving him upstairs – and appeared angered by suggestions that vision of him in the coaches box after the loss to the Brumbies showed him looking defeated.

“Disappointed for the boys, fundamentally,” he said of his reaction.

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“We are all in this together. We will endeavour to put on a great performance this week against the Blues.

“We’ve been close a number of times, there has been moments where for one reason or another we haven’t won the pressure points, get ourselves in front or have consistency so that would be something we would endeavour to improve.”

Penney refused to blame any one, adding he would “leave that to others”.

“All I know is everyone in the organisation is working really hard to get the outcomes that are deserving and we would love to see,” he said.

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