Ulster’s new coach has become embroiled in a racism row in New Zealand.
Mark Anscombe, who was controversially appointed to take over from Brian McLaughlin midway through the province’s season, has denied sending a racist text from his phone to Auckland Blues coach Pat Lam.
Anscombe’s son Gareth plays centre for Lam’s side but had been dropped by Lam in February for poor form.
The contents of theoffensive text which Lamreferred to as “vile” have been reported by local televisionstation 3 News as stating: “Gareth would be playing a lot better if he didn’t have n*****s playing outside him.”
The text was sent around the same time Lam was receiving racist taunts from anonymous sources back in April.
However, while Anscombe accepts the message had been sent from his phone, he denied being the one to send it.
“It certainly wasn’t from me. Someone played a joke,” Anscombe said.
“I had a group of people here... my phone is always in the kitchen and someone sent something, which I quickly jumped onto.
“It was an embarrassing situation. Someone thought they were playing a prank over a few beers. Obviously, I didn’t see the humour in it. I texted Pat immediately.”
However Anscombe, who has previously worked with current Ulster players John Afoa and Jared Payne, refused to identify who sent the text.
“I don’t think they realised. I think they thought it was sending to someone else. They were quite embarrassed over what they had done and where it went,” said Anscombe.
Former Tongan captain Willie Lose defended Anscombe on Radiolive NZ.
“It was a sick joke,” said Lose.
“The gutless idiot, whoever sent it will never be known. Mark Anscombe is certainly not like that.”
However, All Black legend Buck Shelford says anexplanation is needed.
“I've known Mark for a long long time and I don't think that would've come out of Mark's mouth. He wouldn't do that, he's not that type of guy. And I think Mark needs to front up to cameras and make a formal apology on TV.”
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