A 51-year-old has been charged by Australian police over a listening device found attached to a chair in a New Zealand meeting room at the Double Bay Intercontinental Hotel in Sydney, ahead of a match between the All Blacks and Australia. The man, who remains unnamed, was employed as a security consultant and had worked with New Zealand for a long time.
The news came as a shock to New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, who says the man charged was "well respected" among the All Blacks camp and called the charge of public mischief "unbelievable". The man is set to appear in court on 21 March.
"Frankly, the charge seems bizarre and unbelievable," Hansen told the BBC. "However, as with all cases before the courts, there has to be a due process that takes place and it is not right or proper for us to make any further comment as this could jeopardise the outcome of the case."
Chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union, Bill Pulver, expressed his happiness over an "individual being called to account for the incident" but cursed the fact that the discovery of the device was reported on the day the Aussies were soundly beaten 42-8 by their rivals in the Bledisloe Cup in August. The victory was New Zealand's biggest on Australian soil for 113 years.
"The aspect that still leaves a bitter taste out of this whole affair is that the discovery of the device was reported publicly on game day, when it is understood that the alleged discovery of the device occurred much earlier in the week leading up to the Test match," Pulver said.
"Clearly the media attention that resulted from it was a distraction neither team needed on the morning of a very important test match. The ARU and the Wallabies were never accused of any wrongdoing, however it was still important that this matter reached a conclusion to provide complete reassurance to all fans that the organisation and the team had no part in any of this.
"There may be some questions that remain but certainly today's news is welcome news that an individual has been called to account over this incident."