‘It was all on’: Brawl involving players and spectators spoils club rugby game

A brawl erupted in a Manawatū under-21 club rugby game last weekend.

Michael Bradley/Getty Images

A brawl erupted in a Manawatū under-21 club rugby game last weekend.

A club rugby game has turned nasty with a player hit in the head with a bottle by a spectator, a witness says.

An under-21 colts game between Palmerston North club College Old Boys and Whanganui Metro at Ongley Park in Palmerston North on Saturday was marred by a brawl between players and spectators. COB won the game 37-12.

Manawatu Rugby Union chief executive Andrea Jackson and Whanganui Rugby Football Union chief executive Bridget Belsham did not respond to requests for comment.

A spectator, who did not want to be identified, witnessed the fight.

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He said the Whanganui team had been baiting the COB players during the game and had been marched back by the referee a couple of times for back chat, while a reserve player was trying to start fights.

COB were penalized so a Whanganui Metro player took a quick tap and got hit hard in a legal tackle, but it sparked the fight.

“It was all on, the players were into it. We were on the other side of the ground. But on the roadside [of Ongley Park] were the Whanganui spectators …. From there it was all on.

“The next minute spectators and parents were running on. Then it cooled down then kicked off again.”

He said he saw people punching each other and one spectator hit a player with a bottle, but he couldn’t tell if it was a plastic water bottle or a glass bottle.

“It wasn’t flash. It was a brawl, side on side, they were going for it.”

The spectator said he didn’t see any red or yellow cards issued by the referee.

The game was called off with 10 minutes to go because it was getting “nasty” and when the referee left he was turning around to make sure no-one was following him.

Whanganui Metro coach Mark Cosford said spectators from their side of the field had not been involved and the team had dealt with the incident “in house”.

“We’ve identified improvements that need to be made.”

He declined to comment further and said it was a matter for the Manawatū Rugby Union to deal with.

COB chairman Roy Todd declined to comment.

The Manawatū Rugby Union’s game development club lead Daniel Harper deferred to Jackson for comment, but said both clubs had been sanctioned, and a player was given a six-week suspension for a striking charge from a separate incident during the game.

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