All Blacks ban Getty over Photo-gate
July 29, 2010
The infamous photo that has seen Getty Images banned by the All Blacks © Getty Images
The NZRU has snapped into action over Getty Images photographer Scott Barbour's infamous picture of their team tactics, barring the New Zealander from future training sessions and denying Getty access to the rest of their training sessions in Melbourne this week.
New Zealand and Australian coaches and players have played down the significance of the photo, a close up of some set pieces scrawled on notes in coach Graham Henry's hand, but the NZRU are nonetheless angry at Barbour's act of minor espionage.
The NZRU has no power to deny Getty's access to Saturday's Bledisloe clash at Etihad Stadium as the match is under the jurisdiction of the Australian Rugby Union, though its representatives may be barred from covering next Saturday's trans-Tasman match in Christchurch.
All Blacks team manager Darren Shand confirmed Barbour was not welcome at team media opportunities and negotiations with Getty Images were continuing.
All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen described Barbour's actions as a "breach of trust" saying he broke an "unwritten rule" by taking advantage of his access to the level of exposing information that clearly wasn't supposed to be made public. Australian media widely reproduced the photo on Wednesday. Hansen maintained the leak would not jeopardise preparations or force a tactical review but that did not spare Christchurch-born Barbour from sanctions.
Shand said photographers were not instructed on what to shoot at All Black sessions but it was "just commonsense" not to circulate the game plan. "People's careers hinge on results," he said.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew dismissed suggestions of legal action against Getty Images - and confirmed their existing commercial agreement would be honoured. But he shared Shand's concerns.
Tew said: "We think it is important to be open. But at international level the margins that separate the teams are so marginal that the smallest thing can make a difference."
Barbour, who started his career at the Christchurch Mail, won the prestigious award in the sport category at the World Photography Awards at Cannes, France, this year. He has refused to make public comment about the photograph.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans refused to be drawn on the topic but said with a smile: "I understand it was a Kiwi photographer, so I do find that amusing."
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