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14 Dec 2011 08:03
All Blacks and Canterbury Crusaders’ wing Zac Guildford has been barred from the first Super 15 game next year as punishment for his drunken spree in the Cook Islands last month.
In a ruling released on Wednesday following a New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) misconduct hearing, Guildford was also ordered to undergo alcohol treatment and counselling at his own expense.
Guildford was in the small Pacific island nation for a friend’s wedding when he staggered naked, drunk and bleeding into a bar and allegedly assaulted two people.
He was also accused of harassing an athlete and making lewd sexual comments as she was on a training run along a road on the main island Rarotonga.
The NZRU ruled Guildford’s conduct was unprofessional and brought the game into disrepute, and imposed a four-match ban covering the Crusaders’ three pre-season matches and their opening Super 15 game against the Auckland Blues.
It was the second time in two months that Guildford and alcohol have hit the headlines after he was publicly reprimanded for his behaviour by the All Blacks management during the Rugby World Cup.
NZRU professional rugby manager Sorensen said they now had an agreement with Guildford that professional treatment and counselling provided by external specialists was an essential part of his rehabilitation.
“Taking players out of rugby is not something we do lightly. But we have taken into account the fact that with regard to alcohol-related behaviour, Zac does not have an exemplary record,” Sorensen said.
“On this occasion, he embarrassed himself, his family, his teammates, and New Zealand Rugby.
We believe Zac brought the game into disrepute and the sanctions reflect the gravity of the situation and the need for a real pathway to recovery.”
Guildford acknowledged in a statement that his behaviour had been unacceptable, and he was working to resolve his issues.
“I am embarrassed by what has happened, but I know that I let down the many people who support me,” he said.
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