Auckland crowd behaviour investigated

April 14, 2012
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As the Blues’ pain over their poor on-field form continued, the franchise’s off-field troubles escalated as their supporters showed the darker side of Auckland.

Rugby365

At the end of a week that was littered with racial abused hurled at Blue coach Pat Lam and his players, spectators at Eden Park debased the team even further when they hurled objects onto the field – as the Sharks edged the Blues 29-23 in a Super Rugby Round Eight match.

While the incident is probably not as serious as the recent pitch invasion at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria – when Johannes Gideon Nel entered the playing arena and threw an energy drink bottle at Blues captain Kevin Mealamu – but Friday’s incident in Auckland was just as disgraceful.

It happened in the 17th minute, when objects were thrown from the crowd at Sharks hooker Craig Burden as he was about to score a try.

SANZAR Chief Executive Greg Peters, who confirmed that he had seen the incident, said they will be waiting for a formal report.

“It was not immediately clear to me how serious it [the incident] was, but we will wait for the  match manager’s report to see if it is raised in that,” Peters told this website.

“It certainly appears to be different to the pitch invasion at Loftus.

“As always we are concerned about the safety of our players,” he added.

Peters urged South African authorities to “throw the book” at the fan who invaded the Loftus pitch last month and while he was unwilling to comment before seeing the official report, SANZAR will no doubt be keen to stamp out incidents of spectator misconduct.

The Blues did not immediately respond to requests for their reaction to the incident, unlike the Bulls – who displayed their ‘zero tolerance’ policy for unruly fans and promised that there would be “harsh repercussions” for Nel.

Nel was immediately arrested, escorted to the security control room and later taken to the Sunnyside Police Station where a charge of assault has been laid against him.

For the Blues it was not a good week, which seemed to go from bad to worse – especially as they slumped to their fourth loss in a row and sixth in seven matches. It all but extinguished any glimmer of hope the Blues might have had of reaching the play-offs, as they remain firmly rooted to the bottom of the New Zealand Conference and second to last – with only the Lions below them.

Blues captain Keven Mealamu said his players were stringing together some good phases of play, but letting themselves down with poor execution.

“The boys are really trying hard out there, but those little things really cost us,” he said.

“You just can’t play in this competition with that many errors.”

The Blues next travel to Dunedin for a tough Round Nine match against the Highlanders, while the Sharks return home after winning two and losing two of their matches on a four-match swing through Australia and New Zealand.

“We’re very happy with the way things ended,” Sharks captain Keegan Daniel said.

“We mixed our form on tour, but to come to the home of rugby and come away with five points, we’re chuffed with that.

“We had to defend for most of the first half and that’s probably been one of our downfalls over the last few weeks.

“I’m proud of the way the boys defended and we got four tries to take a bonus point so I’m happy with that.”

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6 Comments

  1. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    April 14th, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    One wrapped piece of plastic burger wrapper… ho-dee-dum… but yes the point remains…

    I’m far less impressed with the Saders using their brass band to heckle the Stormer’s kickers… disgraceful!

  2. avatar DavidS says:
    April 14th, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Bulls should bring back their heckling stadium commentator to make suggestions to the visiting Antipodeans about their sexual preferences…

    The brass band is shocking…

  3. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    April 15th, 2012 at 12:43 am

    Reply to DavidS @ 7:10 pm:

    Haha… was it the Bulls or the Lions… lol… what did he get busted for again way back… called the Aussies sheep-shaggers didn’t he?

  4. avatar DavidS says:
    April 15th, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 12:43 am:

    No it was Pretoria and it was one of the Aussie sides…

    Can’t recall which one though… may have been the Brumbies…

  5. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    April 15th, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Reply to DavidS @ 8:22 am:

    Hehe yeah I remember his shrill voice over the speakers clearly… was a hoot…

  6. avatar DavidS says:
    April 15th, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I didn’t watch it but I know he got fired…

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