Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth has denied assaulting or pointing a gun at a homeless man on the eve of the Monday afternoon announcement of the Rugby World Cup squad.
A first choice in the South African national team for much of this decade, Etzebeth is considered a certainty to be among the 31 players who will be picked for the global showpiece in Japan next month.
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Reacting to social media allegations of an incident in Langebaan, 135 kilometres (84 miles) north of Cape Town, Etzebeth said they were “completely untrue”.
“It is completely untrue and unfounded to claim that I physically or racially abused anyone in Langebaan as has been reported on social media,” he told the South African media.
“Multiple witnesses can corroborate that. I am and will always strive to be a true ambassador to this beautiful rainbow nation and the sport that I love.”
A statement from national body South African Rugby said “we have spoken to Eben and he categorically denies any physical or racial abuse on his part as has been alleged in social media.
“(SA Rugby) has no tolerance of acts of violence or racial abuse. We will co-operate with the authorities in any way necessary.
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“Our Rugby World Cup squad will have no place for anyone who transgresses those principles.”
Etzebeth is leaving Cape Town-based Super Rugby team the Western Stormers after the September 20-November 2 World Cup to join French Top 14 outfit Toulon.