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Crusaders' incidents 'not substantiated' by NZR investigation

Richie Mo'unga and George Bride are both free to play in the Super Rugby final after the Crusaders duo was cleared of separate off-field incidents during the team's tour of South Africa earlier this year.

New Zealand Rugby on Monday released its findings into the alleged incidents in Pretoria and Cape Town, after an independent investigation had been carried out by Steph Dyhrberg.

"NZR's investigation has found that the allegations against George Bridge were not upheld," NZR Head or Rugby Nigel Cass said.

"With regard to Richie Mo'unga, the NZR investigation found that the allegations also could not be substantiated. Given the seriousness of these allegations, and the potential consequences, we needed to be confident that what was alleged, actually took place, and we weren't."

Bridge had been accused of making anti-gay slurs during a night out in Cape Town after the Crusaders' draw with the Stormers.

Mo'unga, meanwhile, was alleged to have spat beer at a woman while out celebrating the Crusaders' big win over the Bulls in Pretoria a week earlier. The allegations against the No. 10 only came to light after the Cape Town incident, with Mo'unga offering an apology via social media.

The investigation concluded that Mo'unga's response to an allegation on the night in question was out of character and that the fly-half had acknowledged he had been drinking.

"The way he [Mo'unga] responded to the complainant was inconsistent with NZR values and expectations, and he has acknowledged this and subsequently apologised," Cass said.

"We feel that he has learned some valuable lessons and we are satisfied that he will not put himself in the same position again in future. We have made our expectations around behaviour clear to him. He has been reminded of his obligation to be a role model for the sport at all times, especially when approached by members of the public - even in a social setting."

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge confirmed his franchise was already reviewing its post-match and social media use protocols.

"We will learn from this experience and use it as an opportunity for improvement. For us, this is not just about two members of our team; we all need to take some responsibility for this and learn from it. That is why we are reviewing our policies around alcohol and social media use to ascertain if our existing policies are robust enough and make changes if needed. If we apply the same growth mindset off the field as we do on the field, we'll all be better people as a result."

The matter behind them, the Crusaders can now concentrate on securing a third straight Super Rugby title, at home to the Jaguares, on Saturday evening.