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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 00:30 GMT
Santa beards barred by pub chain
Dozens of rugby players in Santa outfits were barred when they tried to collect money for charity in a bar.

Doormen at O'Neill's Irish Bar in Peterborough, Cambs, refused to allow them in because their false beards made them a security risk.

The 47 Santas from Peterborough Rugby Club were told they would have to remove their beards and hats.

An O'Neill's spokesman said customers were asked to remove headgear so their faces could be seen on CCTV cameras.

"Isn't it just amazing?," said rugby club chairman Phil Elmer. "Talk about having no sense of humour.

We're not angry or anything and we haven't made a complaint but we just thought it was so funny
Phil Elmer, of Peterborough Rugby Club
"Here you had 47 rugby players dressed as Father Christmas walking round the town all night collecting money for children's charities.

"The policemen were laughing at them and everyone was having fun, but they weren't allowed into the bar because they were deemed to be a security risk because the CCTV cameras couldn't see their faces if they were wearing false beards and hats.

"We're not angry or anything and we haven't made a complaint but we just thought it was so funny."

A spokeswoman for O'Neill's said: "For security reasons we ask all customers to remove headgear before entering the outlet. It is because of security for CCTV.

'Customers' security'

"O'Neill's in Peterborough has a responsibility for the safety and security of our customers.

"If our management had been given prior warning that the Peterborough Rugby Club would be collecting for charity that evening, arrangements for entry would have been made.

"However, due to the large size of the group, the fact that their faces were covered and the pub being very busy, our management took the decision to refuse entry inside unless the group removed their hats and false beards."

The rugby club Father Christmases managed to raise more than 1,000 for charity.

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