Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge fronted media today and said his players are "gutted" after allegations surfaced that several players made homophobic slurs in Cape Town on Sunday.
Mr Mansbridge announced today that an investigation will be held into two claims where players were accused of inappropriate behaviour during their tour of South Africa earlier this month.
The allegations came to light after the Crusaders visited a McDonald's in Long Street, following their 19-19 draw against the Stormers over the weekend.
A fresh allegation surfaced today with Radio NZ reporting that a Cape Town woman alleged that Crusaders player Richie Mo'unga spat beer at her and her friends before inappropriately touching her at a bar on May 11.
Mr Mansbridge told media today that they have brought in an independent lawyer to investigate both allegations against his players.
"We think an independent investigation with Steph Dyhrberg [lawyer] a reputable QC is our best way forward," said Mr Mansbridge.
"I have talked to the players involved this morning and they are clearly gutted, they're looking to co-operate fully with the investigation.
"In the case of the second event in Cape Town I don’t think there is any discussion of alcohol, in the case of the first there was the term of intoxication was used – I don't think from the reports I've had, was out of control."
The Crusaders released a statement yesterday afternoon denying the allegations about the McDonald's homophobic incident.
"I've heard feedback from players, I've heard from management, I've heard feedback from security staff who were there and other independent people have made contact with us.
"They suggest that there was no homophobic statements made.
"We have a 'he said – he said' situation, that's why we think an independent review is probably the best way to do it.
"And we are going to invite both complainants to contact Steph directly.
"The actual allegations if proven correct, obviously they are a concern."
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson says only one player, George Bridge, was involved in the McDonald's incident but denies anything "untoward" happened.
The claims are against three players, the team management and the South African-based security advisor, but Robertson said the others were there but had no dialogue.
"The boys really refute all the allegations, George who I've talked a lot about it, he engaged with him ... he's really upset around everything that's come out. He's extremely, authentically genuine that there was nothing ever said, there was no homophobic words or gestures," he said.
"He just can't understand how it's got to this platform."