All Blacks head coach clarifies domestic violence comments

All Blacks head coach clarifies domestic violence comments

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has issued a statement to clarify comments he made about domestic violence while defending his selection of Sevu Reece.

His comment that domestic violence is "not a gender thing" in backing Reece's call-up had attracted criticism for downplaying the fact that the large majority of victims are women.

Hansen said: "It's not just restricted to males assaulting women, women assault males too. It’s not a gender thing, it’s a New Zealand problem."

Women's Refuge New Zealand has said all statistics point to domestic violence being a "gendered phenomenon".

Today, Hansen admitted his comments had come across as "being unsympathetic or minimising how poisonous and harmful domestic violence is for women".

"Nothing could be further from what I intended," he said in a statement.

"I'm glad to have the chance to correct this impression.

Based on my experiences as a police officer, I get the fact that the vast majority of victims of domestic violence are women and children. That's not in dispute and is plain wrong.

Reece had been due to move to Connacht last season before he appeared in court over a domestic violence charge.

A heavily intoxicated Reece chased his girlfriend and dragged her to the ground during an argument in July 2018, leaving her bloodied and bruised. He pleaded guilty to the assault.

Reece was granted a discharge without conviction, however, as the judge said a conviction would have ended his contract in Ireland, which would be out of proportion to the seriousness of the offending.

Connacht subsequently pulled out of the deal.

Sevu Reece
Sevu Reece

Reece was called up to the Crusaders earlier this year, going on to win the Super Rugby championship last week. He has now been included in New Zealand's 39-man squad for the Rugby Championship.

Defending Reece's selection, Hansen said: "You've 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.

"We're all a product of our upbringing. And unfortunately, some of us reflect our parents. Our parents may not want to hear that but they have a huge responsibility to bring us up in a way that we would like to see people conduct themselves.

"I have no problem selecting Sevu Reece because I know he's been through a process that has been very challenging for him. I know the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Crusaders have great systems in place for that, the justice system has dealt with him. And I'm seeing, everyday, a kid go out and play good rugby.

"So not only is he doing the job off the field, with his support, he's also doing the job on the field. So why wouldn't we pick him? Why wouldn't we try to get a young man who's made a mistake to see the error in his ways? And then get him to use that knowledge, and improvement in himself, to help others."

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