Wednesday 17 July 2019

Rugby coach defends choice of player with abuse charge

Coach: Steve Hansen has come underfire for his selection of Sevu Reece. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
Coach: Steve Hansen has come underfire for his selection of Sevu Reece. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

Maya Oppenheim

The All Blacks head coach has faced criticism for arguing domestic abuse is not a gendered issue while justifying his decision to pick a player charged over domestic violence to his rugby championship squad.

Sevu Reece was charged with "male assaults female" - the New Zealand legal term for spousal abuse - after injuring his wife in a drunken assault last year.

The 22-year-old was discharged without conviction after a judge ruled it would have a detrimental effect on his rugby career.

Steve Hansen, a former police constable who now heads up New Zealand's rugby team, said Reece had made a mistake but had been through the right process.

"I don't think there's one New Zealander that wouldn't have put him in the team," Mr Hansen told Radio Sport.

"Having been a policeman I've seen a lot of this... and I know it's not just restricted to the male - women assault males. It's not a gender thing.

"[There are] two types... one, where you have a control freak, male or female..." Mr Hansen said about domestic violence.

The All Blacks coach argued Reece could even become "a role model" for young men.

Mr Hansen added: "You have got to remove him out of it and say, look there's been a domestic violence incident, do we agree with it? No, we don't. Does the New Zealand Rugby Union? No, they don't. Do the Crusaders? No, they don't.

"But, it's a big part of our society unfortunately. So, rugby is going to have people within its community that are involved in this."

Ang Jury, chief executive of the New Zealand Women's Refuge, said: "He's referring to ideas that are old, debunked, based on his experience as a police officer 20-odd years ago.

"It's a gendered problem that New Zealand has. There is no statistic that demonstrates anything other than that."

She added: "It would be disingenuous of me to suggest that women can't be violent... but we know that women are hurt more often, they're hurt more seriously and they fear their partners more than men do."

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