SYDNEY (AP) — Police have charged a security consultant with public mischief after an investigation into allegations a listening device was planted in the All Blacks' meeting room at a Sydney hotel before a Bledisloe Cup test last August.
New South Wales state police issued a statement on Tuesday saying the 51-year-old man would appear in a Sydney local court on March 21.
New Zealand management discovered the listening device on Monday, Aug. 15, but reportedly didn't notify police for five days - with news emerging on the morning of the match.
At the time, New Zealand Rugby said a device similar to that used by law enforcement and spy agencies was found in a chair in the room which was being used for sensitive tactical and planning discussions. New Zealand won the match 42-8.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, in a statement, said the charge "seems bizarre and unbelievable."
Hansen said the man who was charged worked for the All Blacks and "is someone who is trusted and well respected by us."
"However, as with all cases before the courts, there has to be a due process ... and it is not right or proper for us to make any further comment as this could jeopardize the outcome of the case."
The man has been identified as Adrian Gard, a director of the Brisbane-based security and investigations company Bodyguards International.
The company has worked for the All Blacks in Australia for more than 10 years, and has had other high-profile clients including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, and Oprah Winfrey.
Gard could face up to 12 month in prison if convicted.
The charges provided some closure in the case, Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver said in a statement.
"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 organization and the team had no part in any of this," Pulver said.
"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."