John Weekes

Nathan Harris and his teammates were ready for an evening of cheap drink, scantily clad dancers and red-carpet glamour when they turned up at one of Cape Town’s glitziest nightclubs a week ago.

Instead, after meeting a young woman there, Harris stands accused of rape, an accusation he steadfastly denies. The Baby Black failed to show up for his Te Puke club game at the weekend, after admitting he was the player being investigated by the SAPS over a complaint made after the IRB Junior World Championship.

Harris was Te Puke Sports’ stand-out player this season and the only one from the Bay of Plenty to make the Baby Blacks and travel to the tournament in South Africa.

The team enjoyed a big week. They went on safari, made new friends and enjoyed a hike on Table Mountain. “What an amazing journey,” wrote one player, Jason Emery, on Facebook.

But it was the way Harris partied after the tournament that has got him into trouble for breaking team rules by having a woman in his room. And he could be in far greater trouble if the SAPS presses rape charges.

Tiger Tiger markets itself as one of the most exclusive clubs in Cape Town, playing host to SA cricket captain Graeme Smith, Britain’s Prince Harry and Hollywood stars. On Friday, June 22, ladies’ night, it promised pole dancers, podium dancers and “bare butt butlers”.

A club employee, Charlene, said that ladies’ night drew a big crowd of young women. She said two minders had accompanied the Baby Blacks to the club. “There were two security guards, that came from the hotel… they make sure everything’s going smoothly.”

The woman who later accused Harris of rape had met some rugby players earlier that night and someone told her what hotel room Harris was staying in.

“It sounds like she pitched up at the hotel, separately. That’s what the staff are saying,” said Charlene.

The New Zealand Rugby Union said this week it did not believe players had been grossly intoxicated. But a Facebook post from one player suggests that many Baby Blacks still had hangovers in Sydney more than 12 hours after they left Cape Town.

Harris travelled with far more than a hangover. He faced the prospect of a police investigation. – New Zealand Herald