Illawarra Rugby president Peter Woods has labelled two incidents that marred Saturday’s grand final as ‘‘stupid’’ and ‘‘ridiculous’’ and said a police presence would be considered for future grand finals.
Police were called to break up a brawl between fans that erupted outside WIN Stadium immediately following the first grade match, won by Camden, involving around 15 people in Avondale and Camden colours.
Witnesses called police, who arrived promptly at the scene to disperse the crowd. No-one was seriously injured and no arrests were made.
It followed an earlier incident during the second grade match in which Avondale players were involved in an altercation with Camden supporters in response to alleged racial slurs.
‘‘It was ridiculous, I don’t know why people get so wound up about a game of rugby or any sport,’’ Woods said.
‘‘It was wrong. The [Avondale] players should have stayed behind the goal line after the try had been scored like they were supposed to.
‘‘If they heard any racial vilification the captain could’ve gone to the referee. The referee could have then gone to the match-day control who would’ve got security to deal with it.
‘‘In the end they [security] did. They [spectators] were taken 10 rows back and told if they didn’t behave they’d be out the door.’’
While the actions of Avondale players will face scrutiny, Woods said questions would also be asked of Camden regarding the spectators responsible for the alleged racial abuse.
‘‘It doesn’t forgive people yelling abuse. That’s not on,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t think Camden can escape [scrutiny] by saying it’s people we don’t know. I think you have to take more responsibility.’’
Woods said an investigation would be launched this week after Illawarra Rugby received statements from officials yesterday.
‘‘All the video and the statements from touch judges and the referees were taken and I received them this morning [yesterday]. It will all be going off to the judiciary and we’ll ask for a ‘please explain’.’’
Avondale contested grand finals in three grades and Camden two, which saw fans from both clubs make up the bulk of the 2000-strong crowd at WIN Stadium. The hostility between the two camps was palpable following the second grade incident and it came to a head outside the ground following the first grade match.
Woods said that while Illawarra Rugby would deal with incidents inside the ground, investigating the brawl outside was more problematic.
‘‘The police were there, thank God,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a very different matter. We’ve got no real control over that.
‘‘I believe we are going to receive a statement. When that occurs we’ll have a look at it and deal with it, but we need someone to give us a statement.
‘‘I took a while to leave the ground. I wandered out and the police were standing around and what was left of the crowd was moving along.’’
Woods said he was satisfied with security provided by WIN Stadium but said Illawarra Rugby may consider a police presence at future grand finals to avoid a repeat of Saturday’s incidents.
‘‘WIN Stadium do all that [security] and they were fine. They were dealing with fools.
‘‘It’s never, ever happened at rugby before. Now that it’s happened we may have to think about that [police presence].’’