Perhaps inspired by the New England Patriots, someone hid a bug inside a chair in a New Zealand rugby team’s meeting room last week in order to spy on them, per the New Zealand Herald. The All Blacks were staying in a hotel in Sydney, and set to meet in the conference room where they found the bug. New Zealand team officials held off reporting it until after they’d kicked Australia’s ass, 42-8, on Saturday.
Plenty of people have a motive here. The Australian team, sick of losing to their little brothers off on Sheep Island, could have planted it to try and get an inside look at the All Blacks’ strategy. For their part, the Australians have offered vigorous denials:
“It is completely ludicrous. I just think it’s a ludicrous concept that there are listening devices being placed in team rooms. I don’t know how that could happen.
“I’m utterly disappointed the story would break on match day and frankly, that’s all I’ve got to say,” (Australian rugby chief Bill) Pulver said.
“I simply don’t know the background but I’m clearly disappointed it gets out to the media on the day of a Bledisloe Cup match.”
The more likely culprit is an international gambling syndicate, looking for actionable nuggets of information. New South Wales police are investigating, and haven’t offered up any information, but a syndicate would have more motivation and less to lose than an Australian official. A professor told the Herald that his money was on a gambling ring:
AUT associate professor of sports management Geoff Dickson says the planting of the device is more likely to be the work of a gambling syndicate than anybody involved with the Australian Rugby Union or the Wallabies.
Dickson told Rachel Smalley on Newstalk ZB this morning that betting syndicates have large amounts of money at their disposal for such covert operations. He said their motivation would be the information gained which would assist with setting odds for a match outcome.
Dickson added that he would be surprised if any ARU involvement was uncovered, saying the cost of getting caught would be catastrophic for anyone associated with the sports organisation.
New Zealand officials have thus far stayed out of it, telling the Herald, “We’re not accusing anybody of putting it there.” For my money, an international gambling syndicate seems like a much more logical bet to have tried this espionage, but there’s still a lot missing from this story. If you know who planted the bug, or at least have any good conspiracy theories, please hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.