LONDON – Gloucester are “unreservedly” backing head coach Johan Ackermann and his son Ruan after police announced they were being investigated over a nightclub brawl.
The incident occurred in Cheltenham, southwest England in the early hours of Sunday, following Gloucester's 69-12 win over Italians Zebre in the European Challenge Cup.
Gloucester have conducted their own investigation into what happened and the English Premiership club say they are confident the claims made against the pair are untrue.
“We take any allegations extremely seriously and we have conducted a full investigation into this matter,” chief executive Stephen Vaughan said in a statement. “We have spoken to Johan and Ruan, to the club where the alleged incident took place, the police and other independent witnesses, as well as viewing subsequent CCTV footage. “I'm completely satisfied that while an incident did take place, it was instigated by others and not by Johan and Ruan as has been incorrectly reported.
“Both Johan and Ruan have been upset and disappointed by the allegations, but do appreciate the support from Gloucester fans, players, colleagues, friends and family.”
Photos of the victim's facial injuries were posted on social media by his sister and have attracted criticism of the Ackermanns.
But in a statement, Gloucester said: “We are aware that a small number of individuals are posting comments about the incident which are untrue.
“We do not condone violence in any shape or form and having reviewed the evidence, the club stands by the pair unreservedly.”
Earlier, local police said: “The allegation is that there was an altercation between two groups of men, during which one of the men sustained facial injuries.
“Investigating officers will be examining CCTV footage this week and speaking to witnesses. No-one has been arrested.”
Former South Africa player Johan Ackermann, 47, and 21-year-old Ruan, a back-row forward, joined Gloucester prior to the current campaign.
Gloucester are currently second in the Premiership table.