WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has attempted to clarify his recent comments about domestic violence after criticism of his assertion that such assaults are "not a gender thing."
Hansen made the comments while defending his decision to select Crusaders winger Sevu Reece in his Rugby Championship squad.
Reece appeared in court last year charged with injuring his partner in a drunken assault. He was discharged without conviction by the judge who took into account what impact a conviction might have on his career.
Reece was subsequently released by Waikato province and Irish club Connacht tore up a contract which he had recently signed. Reece was then picked up by the Christchurch-based Crusaders and became the leading try-scorer in Super Rugby this season.
After the squad selection, Hansen appeared to play down the toll on women of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is "a big part of our society unfortunately," he said. "So rugby is going to have people within its community that are involved in this.
"And having been a policeman I've seen plenty of it. And I know it's not just restricted to males assaulting women, women assault males too. It's not a gender thing, it's a New Zealand problem."
New Zealand crime statistics show the victims of domestic violence overwhelmingly are women and children.
In a New Zealand Rugby statement on Wednesday, Hansen attempted to clarify those comments.
"It has become clear that my comments have come across to some people as being unsympathetic or minimizing how poisonous and harmful domestic violence is for women," Hansen said. "Nothing could be further from what I intended."
"I get the fact that the vast majority of victims of domestic violence are women and children. That's not in dispute and is plain wrong."
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