Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver says he can’t describe the All Blacks as paranoid for having rooms swept for listening devices, but the ARU aren’t doing it.
A listening device was located in the All Blacks’ meeting room at their Sydney hotel five days before last Saturday’s Rugby Championship opener against the Wallabies.
All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster took umbrage at the suggestion his team were paranoid when the issue was raised in the aftermath of their 42-8 win.
Pulver said on Wednesday he’d never previously heard of sports teams sweeping rooms for bugs.
“I’m not going to describe the All Blacks as paranoid, it’s up to them to run their team the way they want to,” Pulver said.
“But I can tell you we don’t sweep rooms.”
Police weren’t notified until five days after the device was detected as All Blacks management waited for New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew to return from the Rio Olympics.
It became huge story when a New Zealand media outlet broke the news the next morning, the day of the match.
“There was a bit of delayed reaction to hand it over to the police, and I think in retrospect they probably would have handed it over to the police a lot earlier than they did,” Pulver said.
“But I think like me they were probably shocked by that outcome.
“I was shocked because I’ve never heard of the concept of listening devices in the world of rugby, those behaviours are not typical in our game.
“I knew we had nothing to do with it. I was disappointed that it came out on game day because I thought it was an unnecessary distraction.”
Pulver said he was first informed about the device on Friday by Tew at the traditional Bledisloe eve dinner for the Australian and New Zealand rugby boards.
“About 10 o’clock that night Steve (Tew) showed me a photograph of this funny little device that looked like two batteries with a little wire, pretty innocuous,” Pulver said.
“He said at this point they were confident that it wasn’t going to be an issue for public exposure.
“The next morning he rang me, and in fairness to Steve most apologetic, that it had been released to the public.
“He was a bit embarrassed about that and we (had) both agreed on the Friday night that it should be handed over to the police.”