PREMIERSHIP CLUB GLOUCESTER HAS COME OUT IN SUPPORT OF UNDERFIRE COACH JOHAN ACKERMANN AND SON RUAN.
The Gloucester coach and his son Ruan have been caught up in a media storm over an allegation of assault.
Media reports claimed that the Ackermanns assaulted a man, which left him with facial injuries and is now the subject of a police investigation.
A woman called Christina Woods made allegations via social media on Sunday and Monday against Ackermann, 47, the West Country club’s South African coach, and his 21-year-old son Ruan, the No.8 who was named Premiership Player of the Month for November.
Woods, in her verbal tirade, claimed Harry Allen – a personal trainer – was autistic.
Allen, who did not mention the handicap in his media interviews, says he will be pressing charges against the Ackermann duo.
The alleged incident occurred at Club 21 at around 01.30 this past Sunday morning, hours after Gloucester’s win against Zebre in a European Challenge Cup match.
However, Gloucester has come out in defence of the Ackermanns and said their investigation revealed the incident was sparked by others and not the Ackermanns.
Gloucester said that following an accusation regarding Johan Ackermann and Ruan Ackermann “we can confirm an incident took place in Cheltenham last weekend”‘.
“Gloucester are aware that a small number of individuals are posting comments about the incident which are untrue.
“Gloucester does not condone violence in any shape or form and having reviewed the evidence, the club stands by the pair unreservedly.”
The club firmly believes that Ackermann acted with restraint in the face of severe provocation.
The possibility of pursuing legal action against the accusers was considered at one juncture.
Woods has subsequently removed her tirade on social media.
Gloucester Rugby CEO Stephen Vaughan stated: “Gloucester takes any allegations extremely seriously and we have conducted a full investigation into this matter.
“Having spoken to Johan, Ruan, the club where the alleged incident took place, the police and other independent witnesses as well as viewing subsequent CCTV footage, I am completely satisfied that whilst 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 Rugby fans, players, colleagues, friends and family.”
Local police also released a statement which read: “Gloucestershire Constabulary is investigating a report of an incident which happened at the 21 Club in Regent Street, Cheltenham, in the early hours of Sunday morning – December 17.
“The allegation is that there was an altercation between two groups of men, during which one of the men sustained facial injuries.
“The incident was reported just before 1.30am. Police officers arrived shortly afterwards but all those involved had left the scene. Investigating officers will be examining CCTV footage this week and speaking to witnesses. No-one has been arrested.”
Allen, in an interview with Sport24, said his friend Chris Baker (25) – a ‘gentle giant’ – had been ‘body-checked’ by Johan, the Gloucester coach, while trying to get to the bar.
Allen said there was then a stand-off between Baker and Ackermann Snr, who had ‘pushed and grabbed’ Baker.
“I stepped in between them and tried to calm it down and I was punched,” he told sport24.
“My jumper was pulled over my head and I just felt constant knocks and bumps to the back of my head.”
Allen said he was hit at least 12 times and thinks Ackermann Jnr, Gloucester’s No 8, threw the first punch, although he can’t be sure.
“I’ll be honest with you, Ruan was an arrogant little **** afterwards,” he added.
“My friend Chris is about 6-ft-3 or 6-ft-4, a big guy but a gentle giant,” Allen told Sport24 over the phone on Monday.
“He buys himself Lego and Pokemon cards … he’s harmless. He tried to walk to the bar and Johan kept body-checking him and barging him out of the way.
“They [Johan and his son Ruan Ackermann] had their drink so they weren’t waiting at the bar, they were just standing there.”
Additional reporting by sport24 and Rugby 365