A witness has spoken of her disgust after seeing All Blacks star Aaron Smith enter a disabled toilet with a female at Christchurch Airport last month.

The indiscretion took place during the afternoon of Sunday, September 18 – the day after the All Blacks test against South Africa in Christchurch.

A woman, who asked not to be named, witnessed Smith enter a unisex disabled cubicle in the afternoon, just moments after a young woman – understood not to be his partner Teagan Voykovich – had entered the cubicle

The woman, who was at the airport with her husband and young son, said she decided to speak out because that kind of behaviour was not acceptable of a high-profile role model in a public place.

It was about 2pm and the team was upstairs in the food court area, wearing their travel uniforms (white, check shirts and black pants).

The husband and wife took their young son to the bathroom. They were waiting outside the unisex cubicle designed for families or less-abled people when a young woman walked towards the cubicl

Photograph appearing to show the woman appearing to leave the bathroom after Aaron Smith at Christchurch Airport.

The rugby star then returned to his teammates and proceeded to greet fans at the airport.

SENT HOME

Smith has left the All Blacks squad in South Africa.

Aaron Smith on a trip with girlfriend Teagan Vojkovich.

Aaron Smith on a trip with girlfriend Teagan Vojkovich.

He learned his fate on arrival in Durban for the final Rugby Championship match against the Springboks this weekend.

Player leadership and management agreed that the halfback should serve a one-match ban.

Smith requested to go home to deal with the fallout, and the All Blacks have supported him with that.

Aaron Smith together with girlfriend Teagan Vojkovich.

Aaron Smith together with girlfriend Teagan Vojkovich.

The All Blacks were approached earlier in the week for comment. They refused to give a formal response, then tweeted about the incident this morning.

At a press conference this morning in Durban, coach Steve Hansen said he learned about the incident once the team arrived in South Africa.

“On the Sunday in Christchurch after the South African test at the Christchurch Airport, Aaron and a female friend were seen by members of the public to enter the disabled toilets. On our arrival to South Africa we were informed of this.

 

“I had a conversation with Aaron on Tuesday and he confirmed the story.

“As a result of that the leadership group met and were unanimous in the fact that behaviour wasn’t acceptable and as a consequence a one match suspension would be put in place.

“Clearly Aaron is bitterly disappointed with his behaviour and feels he has let the team down but just as importantly feels he is bitterly disappointed in letting his family and partner down.

All Black Aaron Smith at Christchurch Airport.

All Black Aaron Smith at Christchurch Airport.

“At his request he has asked to go home to deal with the personal matters that have come with this incident and we have been only too happy to support him in that.”

 

The woman said the more she thought about it the angrier she became.

“We want to convey the fact that we’re not narking or gossiping.”

However, the All Blacks were put on a pedestal and were role models for young Kiwis, she said.

As such, they should be held to a higher level of scrutiny.

“Most people would not do that, let alone a public figure.”

The All Black was representing his team at the time of the incident, wearing his number ones and in a very public place.

“They are kings and treated like absolute royalty…We hold these people so high in regard.

“They get paid more money than any other athlete, they’re household names, and they’re on the Weetbix boxes for God’s sake.”

The woman’s husband also made a recording on his phone from outside the cubicle after he realised what was taking place.

NOT THE FIRST TIME

Smith has a history of sexual indiscretions.

A former girlfriend of two years is understood to have broken up with Smith after he slept with well-known escort Lisa Lewis.

He also made headlines after he sent a nude picture of himself via Snapchat, and the picture was screen captured and shared online.

And in 2012 he was benched ahead of a test after missing a team curfew.

ANOTHER HIT FOR NZ RUGBY

The news comes after a bad run for New Zealand Rugby, which has been criticised at-length for its handling of the Losi Filipo assault case.

The governing body is supporting the action taken by the All Blacks in standing Smith down from the team to play South Africa.

“This was really bad decision-making by Aaron which reflects poorly on him, and on the team,” NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said.

Smith will face a misconduct hearing on his return to New Zealand.

Tew said Smith had failed to meet the standards that NZ Rugby and the public expect of players.

“We are taking action to improve the culture of our game and are about to embark on an independent review of respect and responsibility in our professional player environment.

“We have drafted the terms of reference and are currently talking to prospective panel members. We will provide an update on this shortly.”

The indiscretion also comes hot on the heels of the Chiefs stripper saga, where rugby players allegedly assaulted a stripper and acted inappropriately during post-season celebratory events.

NZ Rugby has been under immense public scrutiny recently over its culture and how it treats women.

An in-house investigation into the stripper’s allegations ended in a formal caution to all players. No players were singled out and no-one was stood down or suspended.

NZ Rugby said the players refuted the allegations and investigations’ findings did not support the woman’s claims.

However, a raft of experts, politicians and activists have weighed in to tell rugby to up its game. Something that it’s yet to do, judging by this week’s debacle.

LEVELS OF CONDUCT

It is standard for sportspeople, especially those with a high profile, to have provisions in their employment agreements that require players to maintain “certain levels of conduct”.

Basically, players are expected to behave in a way that wouldn’t bring the team or company into disrepute or compromise their performance.

There were not specific rules of what players can and can’t do, the wording is usually quite generic.

These contractual provisions have become commonplace with players since sports teams became more professional.

Penalties in relation to breaching these good behaviour or performance provisions in a contract varied depending on the team, the breach, and the person’s history and character.

 

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