Tuesday 20 February 2018

Lions Tour manager John Spencer 'abused and assaulted' by drunk man in Auckland

Lions Tour manager John Spencer
Lions Tour manager John Spencer

Nick Purewal

The British and Irish Lions will not revise their interactions with fans after tour manager John Spencer was abused and assaulted in an Auckland restaurant.

Former England captain Spencer said he was accosted at a city centre venue called The Depot on Thursday night.

A fellow diner asked for a photograph, but a New Zealander became aggressive, abusing and shoving the 69-year-old.

Spencer pushed the man away and asked to be left alone. The Lions have not made any complaint, and remain disappointed but unfazed by the incident.

"It was an unsavoury incident, with a drunken man who came over to our table and verbally abused a member of my family," the 69-year-old Spencer said.

"I asked him to go away but he continued, so I stood up and he pushed me before his wife came over and took him away.

It obviously was not very nice. However, I must stress that it was an isolated thing because the welcome here all round New Zealand has been exceptional."

"I've spoken to John, it's an isolated, disappointing incident," said assistant coach Rob Howley of Spencer's experience.

"We've had a fantastic welcome, the New Zealand public have been fantastic with their welcome.

"Unfortunately in sport there's always a minority, it's not the majority, but the experiences and welcomes we've had have been quite unbelievable."

The Lions will start the three-Test series with New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday, with thousands of fans flooding into Auckland for the clash.

Howley insisted that the one-off incident with Spencer will not knock the Lions off their stride.

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"The New Zealand public have embraced us," said Howley.

"It was only last night we went out to the Viaduct (a waterfront entertainment complex) as a squad and management and we had a lot of Kiwis coming up to us.

"Yes there's been banter but that's all part of it.

"But coming back to John, it's an isolated incident, and it's the minority, not the majority."

Press Association

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