Lots of ‘pushing and shouting’: Fists fly at club rugby match in Strand, player hospitalised

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Lots of 'pushing and shouting': Fists fly at club rugby match in Strand, player hospitalised
Lots of 'pushing and shouting': Fists fly at club rugby match in Strand, player hospitalised

Africa-Press – South-Africa. Chaos erupted when supporters and players clashed after a match between Helderberg Rugby Club and St George’s RFC in Strand on Saturday.

Scores of supporters from both teams ran onto the field as chaos erupted after the Super League A game at Charles Morkel Stadium.

The hosts, Helderberg, won 43-17.

In widely shared video footage of the clash, which News24 has seen, supporters threw punches at each other and players.

News24 can confirm that at at least one player – from St George’s club – had to be hospitalised after the altercation.

The footage doesn’t show what led to the clash, but it moved quickly from congratulatory handshakes to a scuffle, with scores of spectators and club members joining in.

One man can be seen hitting another with what looks like a flagpole or stick.

On Sunday, Helderberg club chairperson Bokkie Carstens said a report would to be sent to the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) by Monday, following an internal investigation.

St George’s RFC chairperson Janine de Lange said on Monday that the club had no comment.

She was aware of the incident and said there was a meeting with the club’s exco on Sunday afternoon.

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Two St George’s players spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, after they were barred from talking to the media.

They alleged that they heard Helderberg players making racist comments as they were leaving the field, after shaking their opponents’ hands.

One Helderberg player “pointed hands in our face” and continued to shout “hurtful words”, one of them claimed.

When the others heard, they became angry and approached their opponents.

He said there was lots of “pushing and shouting”, and that players were in each other’s faces.

One of the players said:

This escalated the situation.

“After the first half was done and we came back on the field, we scored two tries, which probably upset them,” he said in response to a question about what caused the fracas.

But a Helderberg supporter who witnessed the incident denied the claims.

The spectator, who also did not want to be named, described the entire affair as appalling and claimed that St George’s started the fight.

“I was at the match as an outsider. Helderberg won all four matches against St George’s players.

Another anonymous supporter added: “After the main match, spectators ran onto the field and started hitting Helderberg’s players.”

The supporter claimed the incident allegedly started when St George’s supporters spewed rude remarks at the Helderberg team.

Another St George’s player said many of them went into the game with built-up anger from years ago.

“In the past seven years that I have played for the team, we have always been told rude words by them, and it’s not right,” he claimed.

He said he believed the whole debacle could have been avoided, adding that coaches and medics should not have gotten involved, or used pepper spray.

The player said there was no debriefing after the incident.

He said:

Sources close to the Helderberg team claimed the players were instructed not speak to the media or to post anything on social media.

News24 contacted Helderberg team manager Herman Pretorius on Sunday, but he didn’t “really want to talk now”.

Western Cape police spokesperson, Sergeant Wesley Twigg, said Strand police were aware of the incident, adding: “No cases were registered for investigation, yet.”

An SA Rugby representative said the organisation was aware of the incident and was waiting for a report from the WPRFU.

Attempts to reach the WPRFU were unsuccessful. Its comment will be added once received.

The scrimmage is the latest in a series of recent club rugby incidents.

Earlier this month, SA Rugby called on clubs to control their crowds after match officials in the Eastern Cape were abused and assaulted by supporters.

“These hot-headed thugs who physically assault officials have no place in the sport and should be banned for life from participating or attending,” its president, Mark Alexander, said at the time.

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