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Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Referee hurt in fan attack
The Springbok supporter is escorted off the field
The Springbok supporter is escorted off the field
South Africa's Tri-Nations clash with New Zealand in Durban was thrown into chaos when a fan attacked the referee.

The two sides were locked at 17-17 early in the second half when a fan wearing a Springbok shirt ran on to the field and tackled Irish referee David McHugh.

New Zealand's Richie McCaw intervened to wrestle the assailant to the ground and McHugh was caught up in the melee as both sets of forwards rushed to his aid.

South Africa Rugby Ltd immediately released a statement, condemning the events of the second half.


We were completely surprised but I think the players handled it well
All Black captain Reuben Thorne

"This kind of behaviour does not belong on any rugby field and we're very sorry that it happened," said Rian Oberholzer, managing director of South Africa Rugby in a statement.

The fan - 46-year-old Pieter van Zyl - was escorted off the field by stewards but McHugh was taken off in a motorised cart clutching his shoulder and was unable to continue.

South Africa Rugby said that Van Zyl, from Potchfstroom, was taken into custody and that he would be charged.

"Those who support the Springboks, and indeed rugby, should know that they should behave responsibly and with respect, most especially towards referees, the players and other spectators," said Oberholzer.

He also issued an apology on behalf of South African supporters to McHugh.

All Black captain Reuben Thorne was pleased with the way the players had reacted.

"We were completely surprised but I think the players handled it well," he said.

McHugh, who was replaced by English official Chris White, had angered the crowd early in the match by awarding the All Blacks a controversial penalty try after a high tackle.

The attack was the second incident in a week to interrupt a Tri-Nations game.

Two streakers wearing the logo of a telephone company invaded the pitch just as New Zealand's Andrew Mehrtens was preparing to take a penalty kick in the game against Australia in Sydney.

Mehrtens missed the kick and Australia went on to win 16-14.

Last year a man was fined for tackling South African Deon Kayser during a Super 12 match between Queensland Reds and Coastal Sharks in Brisbane.


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