Aaron Cruden faces severe repercussions after being kicked off the All Blacks’ tour of Argentina and South Africa following an ill-advised late night drinking session in Auckland.
Cruden, the incumbent All Black five-eighth, did not travel with the team to Buenos Aires after missing the flight and was then reprimanded by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen after it was revealed a boozy night on the town with teammates was the cause of his tardiness.
Hansen’s subsequent judgment to axe Cruden from the tour gained immediate backing from New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew who said it was “a decision I completely support”.
Tew added on Monday he had spoken to Cruden after the decision to leave him at home and he had been “very disappointed” but accepted he had breached team protocols and standards.
“He is deeply disappointed in himself and he accepts that there are consequences and he is working his way through those in an appropriate manner,” Tew added.
Cruden declined to comment to media.
Hansen explained the process to exclude him soon after the team arrived in Buenos Aires.
“After going out and drinking he is not here. As a consequence of those actions he won’t be coming on the Argentinean or South African leg of the trip,” Hansen said on Sunday.
“We wanted to be up-front about that.”
The incident occurred in Auckland after the team’s flight was delayed from Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning and players were given a free evening.
Cruden has since spoken about the incident;
“On Saturday night, whilst out for an informal dinner in Auckland, I made a poor decision regarding the limits of my alcohol intake. This has resulted in the unacceptable action of me being absent from All Blacks assembly on Sunday morning and thus missing the team flight to Argentina.
“I am deeply embarrassed by this lack of judgement and have never been more disappointed in myself. I have not only let myself down, but most importantly, I have let my team down.
“I carry the burden of shame and disappointment and I am deeply apologetic to my team, to my family, and also the New Zealand public.
“I have no excuses. I have been working really hard over the past few years at gaining respect on the field as well as off the field and am devastated I have dropped my own high personal standards, as well as the standards set by New Zealand Rugby.
“I accept full responsibility for my actions and the penalty of missing the next two games, and I will work with New Zealand Rugby to undertake any other disciplinary action to work through this situation.”