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Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Can crowd trouble be curbed?
A man is led away following the attack on rugby referee Dave McHugh
Referee Dave McHugh is assaulted by a fan during the Tri-Nations match between South Africa and New Zealand.

Should sport do more to prevent such incidents?

HAVE YOUR SAY

Irish referee McHugh was attacked by a fan before a second half scrum.

It was the second time in a week that an All Black game had been disrupted following a two-man streak in the dying minutes of their game against Australia.

And cricket has also come in for criticism following the ease with which a spectator was able to run onto the pitch at Lord's and accost Sachin Tendulkar.

Football may be trying to clean up its act, but should other sports be doing more to improve crowd discipline?


This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appear below.


The behaviour of Pieter Van Zyl was an embarrassment. On the other hand, he only acted out what many South Africans were thinking, and if the ref is on the All Black pay-role he deserves to be flattened.

Van Zyl should be fined/jailed and McHugh should not be allowed to ref another game in his life.
Allan, South Africa


Face it - SA rugby fans are loud, boorish, arrogant and uncouth
Jonty Rees, Brit in USA

Instead of bleating about refereeing decisions, maybe the Springboks could consider staying on their feet and onside at rucks?

As for indignant cries of "We're not uncouth" - how do you explain the deafening whistling and booing every time Andrew Mehrtens lined up a kick at goal? If that was a "minority" of the fans, they must have had powerful lungs.

Face it - SA rugby fans are loud, boorish, arrogant and uncouth. I hope Australia stuff them.
Jonty Rees, Brit in USA

Disgraceful!! No matter how poorly they may officiate during a game, referees are due a level of respect that football referees can only dream of. For a 'fan' to run on the pitch and attack him is simply unbelievable. Sorry South Africa, but that one idiot made you look bad last weekend.
George, Wales

Arguments about the referee's decisions are moot and irrelevant. It sickens me that Pieter van Zyl was quoted in the South African papers as saying that the attack was all the ref's fault - he brought it on himself!

With that sort of attitude it is amazing that there aren't more idiots running amok on the field. Is no-one willing to take personal responsibility for their actions? Van Zyl should be banned for life, no ifs, ands, or buts.
Bruce, USA/ex-pat Wales


Supporters also make mistakes, especially ones passionately behind their team
Tim, England

As a South African rugby fan I feel embarrassed by the number of emails attempting to partially condone the idiot's actions on the basis of bad refereeing. There is absolutely no reason for attacking an individual at a rugby game - bad refereeing or not.

On a separate note, the Boks are improving and deserve our support (it was, after all, a great match other than the interruption by the idiot from Potch).
Mike, England

Referees make mistakes in what they see, and so do supporters, especially ones passionately behind their team.

I still remember Lander making a terrible lineout call in the cup final at Twickenham a couple of years ago - but that's no excuse to assault someone because you don't agree with them.

On the plus side though, at least this guy wasn't streaking - he could probably have fitted more than just a Vodafone advert across him!
Tim, England

Overall, it was a bad day for South African rugby. However, I was disappointed to read in several newspapers that that sort of thing could only happen in South Africa.
Achim, Switzerland


Referees will always make mistakes - they're human, after all
Tim, New Zealand, ex-pat UK

The whole sad affair at King's Park serves to remind me of the 50 years of mindless apartheid measures that South Africa had to suffer for more than 50 years. The policy of a few bad apples spoilt the entire nation.

In this case one deranged individual brought disgrace on the game. It's not the game that must change, but the attitude of the spectators. Van Zyl has had too much attention, as it is for the wrong reasons.

That is one of the reasons why I left SA and settled in England. I was tired of the world concentrating its attention on the bad image and the few individuals who were bad apples, instead of the genuinely good majority who live and love rugby in SA.
Hugh, UK

Referees will always make mistakes - they're human, after all. To make judgement calls in front of 60,000 partisan South Africans for 80 minutes is enough to make strong men weep.

This guy claims to love the game of rugby and I think he should be punished by putting some of his love for the game back into the game. He should be placed on a residential rugby refereeing course and then made to referee matches for the whole of a season.

He might then begin to appreciate that it's a very tough job at any level (let alone at international level) and it might even get him fit, too. He's a disgrace to rugby fans worldwide - and they're no different in the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern, believe me!
Tim, New Zealand, ex-pat UK


It will be hard to stop such behaviour without hurting the majority
Richard, Canada

It is a sad that some commentators, while disagreeing with the action of the man who charged the referee, then turn and chastise the referee for missed calls.

What else can you truly expect in a full contact game with only a single referee to try and oversee the full mayhem on the pitch with the aid of two linesmen? The only answer will be fewer rules or more referees!
Charles Atherton, USA

While the villains are so few, I feel it will be hard to stop such behaviour without hurting the majority.

I was lucky enough to have received tickets to the game in Durban. I wore an All Blacks shirt to the game, which certainly raised a few eyebrows - but throughout the game I was treated with respect and a lot of interest in where I came from.

After the game, some South African fans actually congratulated me on the good game 'my' team had played. They are the true fans, we should respect the sporting behaviour from those hundreds that I met!
Richard, Canada

Apart from being stunned by the idiocy of this one fan, I am also a little surprised by people's reactions to McHugh's two major mistakes. Of course referees don't always get it right, they don't have replays, camera angles and commentators to help them.


Use these idiots for tackle practise and then ruck them off the park
Adrian, New Zealand

It's not hard to see how referees can make mistakes, just keeping up with the ball must take a large amount of effort. I was always taught to play to the whistle and that whatever the referee said was fact, and it's important that we remember that.

Hopefully the IRB won't resort to terrible measures such as video refereeing for every incident, otherwise we'd have to ban line-outs and scrums where offences are committed at every step!

Professionalism has improved the game no end, but to prevent the moronic element getting the idea that the game is played by the fans, this one individual needs to be made an example of, fined heavily, jailed and banned from all IRB recognized rugby games for life.
Alan, England/USA

I think that anyone who runs on to a rugby match to disrupt it or to make a nuisance of themselves should receive a life time ban from attending matches.

Also, the players should be given the right to defend themselves from threat, and by that I mean use these idiots for tackle practise and then ruck them off the park.

This might be a bit extreme but I think it may be a good deterrent.
Adrian, New Zealand


At this rate we will run out of brave souls willing enough to referee our sports
Munch, Australia

Whilst I loath bad refereeing as much as any true sports fan, it is impossible to condone any form of direct interference from the audience. From personal experience, I am well aware of how appalling refereeing can seem whilst clouded by your own bias towards your chosen team, and how different it can look in the cold atmosphere of post-match analysis.

However, I think the real answer is for the respective sporting bodies to invest in their refereeing staff, rather than punish those that are seen to under-perform.

Most major sporting bodies now have considerable wealth at their disposal, this should be invested in the production of highly-trained and as a result highly-paid and highly-motivated individuals.

As with most professions, if the rewards are there, the best people will strive to be the best in their profession, and thus all major sport will benefit, as the poorer "employees" will be lost through the natural selection process as with top of all professions.
Ken, Scotland

I applaud the fan's actions. He was carrying out a citizen's arrest on a ref who was guilty of one of the biggest rugby frauds in history.
Peter, Canada

At this rate we will run out of brave souls willing enough to referee our sports, and who could blame them? For referees, it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time - they are on a hiding to nothing every way they turn.

As for likes of Cro-Magnon man who assaulted David McHugh at the weekend; leave them to both sets of forwards for ten minutes or so (particularly well done Richie McCaw).
Munch, Australia


This kind of behaviour will hopefully be stamped out before we get branded as football supporters
Mike, England

Let's face it, the fan was a complete idiot, but you'll find his type at any ground, any sport, any country. Do what you can to prevent it from occurring, but don't punish the 99.9% of decent fans. As for the quality of the ref, how can McHugh call himself a professional referee? He was appalling!
Steve Darke, South Africa

I agree with Steve from South Africa. This kind of behaviour is not normally associated with rugby and will hopefully be stamped out before we get branded as football supporters.

The point was made that over the past couple of years, South Africa have seemed to be on the short end of the stick and a number of controversial decisions have been made against them. Professional sport seems to me to be corrupt to a degree.
Rob, England

Tri-Nations games are usually filled with high drama and tension, that has in this case boiled over into the crowd. Morg, surely you must feel similar tension when Wales play Romania.
Mike, England

I'd like to recommend that after the pitch invasions of resent months some new type of innovative punishment be introduced to deter further episodes.

My suggestion would be that after the match, as a form of additional entertainment for the crowd, the offender is placed on one of the 22m lines, given a ball and told to run to the further touchline.


I deplore what the person did. However, I've seen McHugh make some terrible decisions
Frank, England

As an added "incentive", the security guards who let him through in the first place should be ranged against him, they having been informed that if he gets through to the line that they're fired.

The thought of this, plus the shame of being jeered by a stadium full of REAL rugby fans should be enough to deter most of these stupid, mindless people.

I of course use the term "people" in its loosest sense, as there is no polite term for these individuals who go out of their way to ruin the reputation, and our enjoyment, of this God-given game.
Richard, England / Germany

I deplore what the person did. However, I've seen McHugh make some terrible decisions, particularly in the Llanelli v Leicester game, where he cost Llanelli the game. Perhaps this will give him a chance to brush up on his skills.
Frank, England

The invasion was inexcusable, but with the constant criticism of referees was probably inevitable. McHugh played his position as well as most of the players did theirs, and I have to believe that many of your correspondents have neither refereed, nor read the laws this week!

Remember, he has to decide in a second or two, without slow motion reruns from several angles, whether or not player almost decapitated was probably going to score but for the offence.


The guy deserves a stiff fine, to be banned from future games and barred from wearing his country's colours
Nellie, America

As for the suggestion that more use be made of video, it would completely change the nature of the game and turn it into American football without the armour. No, thank you!
David, Bahamas

The guy deserves a stiff fine, to be banned from future games and barred from wearing his country's colours. It wasn't even a good tackle!
Nellie, America

Cobus (below) - you hit the nail on the head when you said the referee "erred" - as in "made an error" (ie, not an anti-South Africa conspiracy). No wonder South Africa gets a bad reputation when you can seek to justify assaulting someone who makes an error in the context of a notoriously complex and fast moving game.

Referees make mistakes, but not as many as the players...maybe you would also advocate corporal punishment for a knock-on?
Richard, NZ

Every team from all sports have days when it seems that not one decision goes their way. Often this also coincides with the fact that the team is normally not doing so well in the game. Viewing a referee's decision is always subjective.

With this in mind, I find it hard to agree with Steve or A May that THEIR team is being vindicated. When a team is out-played on the pitch, tempers fly and it is natural to look for excuses.


All this does not mean that all South Africans should carry the burden of an individual's actions
Vil, UK/Canada

However, great teams like the Australian cricket squad, Manchester United or Brazil's soccer team only get their achievement through dedication no matter the decisions in the game.

All this does not mean that all South Africans should carry the burden of an individual's actions. I for one don't feel ashamed for every idiot I see on my home turf, for if I did then I would surely be drowned in despair.
Vil, UK/Canada

To all those who have ever thought "oh, how funny that streaker is"...this is the result. People are encouraged to go on the pitch, some take it to unacceptable lengths as here, some don't. Whichever, you cannot condemn Van Zyl and condone the streaker - both are wrong to be on the field.
Trace, England

I feel sorry for the ref, it was an awful act from that idiot. However, he did a very poor job on the game and every South African fan has a right to be unhappy with the ref on Saturday.

The Boks are looking very strong, and decisions can't always go against them. They were very powerful and deserved to win the game. I felt so sorry for them, this was an isolated incident and some people, ie those people from across the water from myself, should look at the hooligans in their own country before making ludicrous suggestions as to what should happen to that guy.
John, Ireland


Maybe the referee did make some mistakes, but a referee calls it as he sees it
Steve, UK

In general rugby referring is excellent, but with so many match-altering mistakes by the ref, you can understand the frustration of their fans. It seems like the international referees are still treating the Springboks as if they are the teams of the 80s and 90s, and the other teams are taking advantage of this.
Shawn, England

How on earth can Cobus Basson of SA sympathise with this idiot. Maybe the referee did make some mistakes, but a referee calls it as he sees it. He doesn't do it on purpose. Total rubbish if you ask me. If a cricket umpire gives a bad decision, or a soccer referee gives a bad decision, does that mean we should all storm on the pitch and hit the ref??

We all want to see our team win and get fair decisions, but all teams have the odd bad decision against them, and all teams have lucky decisions against them. Shame on you Mr Basson. No sympathy should be offered here.
Steve, UK

I think what Morg was trying to say was a comparison of northern and southern hemisphere RUGBY fans. By saying "what about Cardiff city fans", if you southies are insinuating that the people who watch Cardiff City and rugby are the same, then so be it.

I and Morg are simply saying that we have never seen Northern hemisphere RUGBY spectators running onto the pitch and "tackling" refs or players. By denying that it is a southern hemisphere rugby problem, are you not fooling yourselves, and more importantly ignoring the elements of your RUGBY culture that make these things happen.
Gareth, Wales


The IRB are failing to produce top class refs
John, England

As a referee I was appalled, but not surprised at what happened. No matter how bad Mr McHugh was (and he was dreadful), there is no excuse for what happened. Much more needs to be done to improve security.

However, I feel a wider point is the quality of referees at this level. Anyone who saw Mr McHugh referee Leics v Llanelli in the Euro semis would realise that he is not good enough for the top level. Also, in the recent NZ v SA match, Stuart Dickenson did a fine job in open play but was totally clueless in the technical aspects.

The IRB are failing to produce top class refs, and are also failing to ensure that refs from northern and southern hemispheres are singing from the same hymn sheet.

If this continues there are going to be serious problems at the next World Cup, and results are going to be decided by refereeing styles rather than by the best side winning. I'm not surprised Paddy O'Brien feels safe - in my opinion he's the biggest "homer" in the game.
John, England

As an avid Springbok and rugby fan I was shocked not only to see the incident involving a spectator attacking a referee, but also the streaking incident involving two men running across the field sporting the Vodaphone logo. There is no place for this sort of behaviour in what is a gentleman's sport.


Why should genuine rugby fans suffer because people want their two minutes of fame?
Ian Brunette, Australia

I think there is a real threat to the genuine fans that go to watch top class rugby, never do I want to see fans caged in to stadiums like what happens in most soccer playing nations, I don't feel Mr average rugby spectator should be treated as a potential hooligan.

I would like to see a law passed that if a fan (who probably is not a true rugby fan) wants to streak or feels that attacking a referee is deserved justice, they should be served with a mandatory jail term and a fine, with no exceptions.

A warning should be printed on the tickets and signs put up at the stadiums so these people are aware of the consequences. This may be a harsh comment, but why should genuine rugby fans suffer because people want their two minutes of fame, or some idiot feels the need to teach the ref a lesson. A very disappointed rugby fan.
Ian Brunette, Australia

When that complete idiot attacked McHugh it was a big shock but, frankly, not a big surprise. Northern hemisphere refs are so denigrated that every decision they make gets magnified to the point where some lunatic is going to react like this.

Part of this knee-jerk reaction is based on the fact that the refs mistakenly think they are officiating rugby matches. The spectators, meanwhile, think they are watching one of the versions of basketball called Tri-Nations.
Mark, England


The walloping he got from the two New Zealanders should discourage any further incursions
Steve, UK

I was at the match and, as a season ticket holder, can say it was the only incident of this type I have ever seen in Durban. The idiot involved has been charged and will face a hefty fine along with the possibility of doing time (or so we're told in the media).

The idea that this guy evaded 419 security staff and (as was said on the World Service) 'scaled a perimeter fence' is laughable. He probably walked past one security guard (low paid and more interested in the game) and the scaling of that fence could be managed by a two year old. Throw the book at him and pay security more. That'll stop it.
Jon, South Africa

I think that anyone who runs onto a pitch inhabited by thirty highly-tuned, physically strong rugby players has to be as stupid as our man definitely looked. Charge him for whatever, but the walloping he got from the two New Zealanders should discourage any further incursions.
Steve, UK

Maybe he should be made to do 80 minutes of community service - refereeing a game. We'd all get to have a good laugh watching him try to run, and he'd probably have a cardiac arrest to boot.
Dom, UK

If a rugby player can get a life ban for assaulting a ref, shouldn't this person (to call him a fan would be an injustice to all real rugby fans) also be banned for life from attending all sports grounds?
Pogo, Scotland

You can't really prevent idiots like Van Zyl getting on the pitch, without atmosphere- ruining draconian measures. What is more worrying is the continual 'slating' of refs, who in general do OK.

The players get on with it without whinging, so should supporters and commentators. Technology isn't the answer either; part of sport is riding with luck, both good and bad, and coming back stronger.
Tim, England

I am just surprised no-one was trying to sign him up. Got quite a way for a big lad, before being stopped. Maybe the SA Lomu? Maybe not.
Gordon, England


The referee on Saturday blatantly erred twice in favour of the All Blacks and the spectator put into action what many of us have felt secretly
Cobus Basson, South Africa

I condemn the attack on the referee in the strongest possible terms, but I cannot help feeling some sympathy with the attacker. I think that referees in rugby in general have gradually become more important than the game.

They dominate proceedings and speak to players in a tone of voice which makes me hot under the collar. The referee on Saturday blatantly erred twice in favour of the All Blacks and the spectator put into action what many of us have felt secretly.

That doesn't make it right, but maybe the IRB should look more closely at how referees influence the game. At club level in South Africa we have been experimenting with three referees for a long time (basically more involvement from touch judges) or having two referees on the field of play.
Cobus Basson, South Africa

Hey Morg... take a look at Cardiff City and the behaviour of a significant minority of their "fans". Doesn't look too southern hemisphere to me. The cheek of you!
Justin, Australia

I want to apologise on behalf of all decent rugby fans for that fat animal's behaviour. Incidentally, isn't he the UGLIEST of all the ugly people you have ever seen?
Mike Body, Durban, South Africa.

Perspective is required on this I think. Apart from the odd streaker, rugby doesn't have this sort of problem. And if everyone imposed penalties like those at Australian cricket grounds, I am sure that this would be even more rare. Getting a 2,500 fine is sure to deter people.
Leanne, Australia


It's a "world problem" in sport generally, and these thugs should be banned for life
Tim, Australia

Why not: make it an offence (is it already?) for anyone other than players and officials to be out there ; advise on the ticket of the MINIMUM fine for trespass on the field of play, and announce it again at the start of play, and every 20 or so minutes. A supporters' place is NOT out there with the players!
Tom the Pom, New Zealand

Some typically ludicrous and arrogant comments from British fans, as usual, but the attack on McHugh was absolutely disgraceful, and left me in shock. All South Africans should be grossly ashamed of this idiot 'fan'.
Jamie Hickey, New Zealand

Despite the fact that the ref made some clear errors, it was a disgraceful act by nothing but a criminal. Morg, turn it up mate, your comment that it seems to be a "southern hemisphere disease" is laughable given the way some of the "northern hemisphere" soccer hooligans carry on. It's a "world problem" in sport generally, and these thugs should be banned for life.
Tim, Australia

Anyone invading the pitch at any event and attacking people should be banned from there for good. Not doing so will simply encourage other idiots to do the same. Furthermore, I hope the "fan" concerned is prosecuted for assault.
Andy, Scotland

Does it not strike anyone as peculiar that even though the English are castigated worldwide for spectator troubles, the same does not seem to apply elsewhere - especially in the rugby game in the southern hemisphere?


He wasn't another Vodafone exec was he?
Trev, NZ

Whatever the reason for the 'pitch invasions' that have occurred in the last two Tri-Nations matches, the lack of true security for the players and the referee should be seriously addressed by the international and national rugby unions.

Will it take a serious injury to a key player of the home side to get the authorities to take this matter seriously?
Wendy Morton, New Zealand

All that needs doing to stop the pitch invaders is to "ruck" them the length of the field with stamping allowed. The two packs involved can tossup to see who gets first "kick at the fan".
Keith C., Canada

He wasn't another Vodafone exec was he?
Trev, NZ

This was a disgrace to rugby as a whole. The security was non-existent, as the spectator who felled McHugh ran almost the length of the pitch to get at him before the All Black flanker grounded him. I hope all countries take note of this and try to protect both the players and officials alike.
Russell Beatty, England

I find it difficult to agree with Morg of Wales' assertion that supporters from the southern hemisphere are "an uncouth bunch". I have never seen South African, New Zealand or Australian supporters riot after a game.


Tis thug is not representative of either the South African nation or the game of rugby
Sean, England

Yes, there are one or two idiots every 10 games or so, but one or two people do not make "an uncouth bunch".
Bella, New Zealand

Rugby certainly doesn't need the Van Zyl element ruining the competitive but good natured atmosphere at all rugby games and one would hope that this incident does not become anything more than a one off.
Duncan Hamilton, Zimbabwe

This was one selfish, immature thug. He is not representative of either the South African nation or the game of rugby. People should be responsible for their own actions. Football is visited upon by the same type of people.
Sean, England

It has become high time that video reviews begin to play a more important role in all of the movements relating to a try at international level!

Not only will it allow the players a well-earned water break, but it will reduce the perception of being short-changed by the referee's sometimes seemingly poor decisions which have been leading up to additional tension on the pitch (as witnessed by many player confrontations), and now off the pitch.

The perception is out there that referees can blow a poor game with absolute impunity, never receive any sort of censure, and be back to haunt your favourite team like the proverbial bad penny!


Punishments for those that do misbehave should be severe
The Great Dave, Wales

One can understand the occasional off-the-wall decision - they should even out over time - but at the moment, the Boks seem to be short of about a seasons worth of "good fortune decisions" to catch up.

Rugby is not alone here, soccer has the same problems as seen at the World Cup. No violence of any form can be condoned, but I feel that it is high time that controversial decisions do get 'audited', either in real time or get amended later by some means.
Steve, South Africa

I agree with Ian Jefferies that draconian measures to control crowds should not be implemented. However, punishments for those that do misbehave should be severe.

The Vodafone executive should receive a jail sentence for putting streakers up to a corporate publicity stunt - I'm amazed Vodafone haven't sacked him.

As for the guy that attacked the ref, as well as a jail sentence he should be banned from sports grounds for life. Saying that, David McHugh is one of the most inconsistent and poor quality refs in the world game so perhaps he deserved it!
The Great Dave, Wales

As a South African rugby supporter, I am ashamed of what happened to the Irish ref at the Springboks v All Blacks game. I hope the guy gets a life sentence. He is being prosecuted by the police. So hopefully this will be a deterrent for more possible pitch invasions.


Unfortunately there are no behaviour or intelligence tests that need to be passed to become a supporter of any team
Melanie Harries, Wales/England

But also, you must feel what SA supporters feel about international refs blowing in a game. There is a sense that they are against us. Every time we feel like we played against 16 men and not 15.
Ashamed SA supporter.
A May, South Africa

What is Moeg from Wales on about when he suggests that the southern hemisphere is an 'uncouth bunch'...let's put this in perspective, a combined population of +60 million in SA, Aus and NZ and there are two cases of when an individual has invaded the pitch. Let's not forget the antics of a certain team called Cardiff City FC....get a life Morg!
Alastair, NZ / UK

Unfortunately there are no behaviour or intelligence tests that need to be passed to become a supporter of any team, and I'm sure we all know some right idiots, regardless of what team or sport we follow.

There are no excuses for what happened at Durban, and I hope the culprit is severely punished, but I think it is the slow reaction of those responsible for the security of the players and officials is the real issue here.

There is a lot of alcohol at rugby matches both here and abroad, though I was surprised at the volume I observed being consumed in South Africa, when I was there for the two test matches against Wales and there were also a lot fewer women in the crowd than I'd expect to find in Wales or England.

Forget fences, forget police dogs, forget alcohol bans, forget thousands of stewards. All that is required are 15-20 staff with lightning speed and a tackle/shoulder charge that any wrestler would be proud of. I've seen it done at Lord's Cricket Ground. Anyone running on the pitch, be afraid, be very afraid...
Melanie Harries, Wales/England


Football has taught us that increased security only results in even worse violence
David, Singapore (ex-NZ)

The IRB needs to do two things as a result of this incident. Ban Durban from holding test matches for two-five (the same should go for NZ Super 12 venues Rotorua and Pukekohe). Ensure that only the best referees control games of such importance - an Australian please!

Football has taught us that increased security only results in even worse violence. Sadly, the causes of such acts are wider social problems.

In NZ it is the total breakdown of social and individual responsibility and total lack of respect for the rule of law. In SA it is probably just from living in a war zone? I'm surprised he wasn't shot - it is only a matter of time...
David, Singapore (ex-NZ)

I believe the media have to admit their part in actions such as this. Constant unfounded critical analysis, usually from a partisan point of view, seems to be sending supporters into a state of frenzy.

I find it ironic that the media whip up the fury with inflammatory comments and then when the inevitable consequences rears its ugly head, the media a quick to pull out their "it's just a game" dogma. Enough is enough.
Andrew, Canada

I agree with Ian Jefferies. Crowd problems at rugby games are a rarity. While players and officials can expect reasonable protection, let's hope we don't see any "knee jerk" reactions.
Ron Ward, Australia


It doesn't matter what code or where, there will always be the occasional idiot intent on spoiling it
Greg, Australia

I must take my hat off to Richie McCraw for helping out McHugh, as he must have penalised the number seven as least four times in the first half for holding the ball on the ground (something the less than objective SA commentators were quick to praise!)
Denis Bernard, Japan/Ireland

It doesn't matter what code or where, there will always be the occasional idiot intent on spoiling it. That individual has brought shame on himself and his country, but no-one can sit back smugly and pretend it can't happen elsewhere.

But to put it into perspective, it is an isolated incident - 99.9% of all matches are played without any such incident. Let's not make the mistake made in English soccer of erecting wire fences around playing arenas. That is the reason that so many died at Hillsborough.
Greg, Australia

I think that one possible way of deterring idiots from invading rugby pitches like today is to allow the players to "put a stop" to any such idiot. Could you imagine anyone invading the pitch if they knew that they would soon to receive a kicking from somebody like James Dalton or even better, Martin Johnson?
Simon, England

Let's just hope that we don't all have to pay too high a price for these idiots' actions. There were 60,000 rugby supporters at that game and one fool.

How he managed to run 40 metres on to the pitch is anyone's guess!! Is it too much to ask for security guards to be guarding the pitch? God know's there always seems to be hundreds!
Adam, Australia


Let's keep this in perspective, this sort of incident in rugby is still rare
John Forster, UK

This incident did the game a lot of harm, not just this game but the whole Rugby sport in general. We've had our trouble here in Australia, I'm not saying it's the solution for everything, but for one example our Sydney Cricket Ground have increased security measures over time.

These measures include hefty fines for pitch invasions even possible imprisonment. They have even have bans on alcohol in some sections of the ground. In other sections, only light beer can be sold. A lot of incidents are alcohol influenced.

These measures are in place the whole year round, not only cricket but for all football codes played there. Since I am a spectator at this ground, I have noticed a huge decrease of incidents since these enforcements.
Dave Keast, Australia

I agree with Morg (and Dwayne), its far more civilised to riot amongst the fans or to have organised brawls in the street!?!
Brian, Australia

Let's keep this in perspective. This sort of incident in rugby is still rare. It should be noted that the players always come to the referee's aid. In soccer (especially in UK), the players would keep their distance.

Incidentally, the photograph shown of the attacker being taken of the pitch shows him being held by two people wearing suits and ties. Where were the official stewards/security?
John Forster, UK

I thought the big difference between football and rugby was that in rugby, the violence stays on the pitch? It looks like the fans looking for bother are sticking to this protocol!
James Sykes, England


The frustrated fan was not in the right, but why use an already controversial ref?
Craig, Nigeria

Unless fans are caged in it is impossible to stop people running on the pitch. And, how many real fans want to be caged in? To set the right example, Australia should end their sponsorship with Vodaphone. Vodaphone's cheap streak may not have threatened anyone, but it can only encourage others to follow.
Paul Akhurst, Australia

Couldn't agree more with Dwayne, England. Throw the animals into a locked arena and let them get rid of themselves - last man standing!

As for the idiot who ran on to the pitch in yesterday's game, a jail sentence would be a good idea, and a weight-loss programme would help too. We've just found the answer to the question, "Who ate all the pies?" Nice to hear if he apologises... yeah right!
Paddy Cullen, England

Clearly there was a problem with the ref with two major decisions. The frustrated fan was not in the right, but why use an already controversial ref? The pub I was in watching the game had problems, the TV was almost smashed with those decisions.
Craig, Nigeria

Rugby is a great game that can do without such idiots. He should be convicted of assault and banned from all future games/grounds at any level.
Ralph Anderson, New Zealand

That did the game a lot of harm. Please let that never happen again.
Les, W.Australia

Yes these attacks and feld invasions can be stopped. Ground administrators, police and the team's management must agree a course of action and have the courage to actually do it!


Rugby crowds are generally well behaved, we don't need draconian security measures
Ian Jefferies, England

Trouble today is the world is so PC we don't want to upset anyone! I say toughen up or pay the price!
Grant, New Zealand

Seems to be a peculiarly southern hemisphere disease, rushing onto pitches to "tackle" people (I seem to remember an incident at the Chiefs' ground in this years Super 12). What an uncouth bunch.
Morg, Wales

It's the norm for football commentators in the southern hemisphere to severely criticize northern hemisphere refs. It was always just a question of time before they stirred up enough bad sentiment for some idiot to decide to put things straight. Personally, I think McHugh was doing a splendid job.
Bill, New Zealand

Rugby crowds are generally well behaved, we don't need draconian security measures. A few stewards with rugby boots on to intercept people running onto the pitch during the game is adequate.
Ian Jefferies, England

As an avid Stoke City supporter, I have seen a lot of football trouble at the matches over the years. I don't think the trouble caused by rival fans will ever be curbed, but tight security measures do at least take a lot of it away from the ground itself.

Although this may not be acceptable for most people, I believe that organised gang fights away from families and friendly supporters at least ensures the safety of innocent bystanders.
Dwayne, England

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