Drunken Fans Marr Eden Park’s Four Nations

Today’s Herald is reporting that drunken league fans marred last night’s Four Nations match between the Kiwis and Australia at Eden Park, when hails of beer bottles rained on to the pitch.

This is but one of the  consequences of selling alcohol in bottles -sooner or later drunk people are going to use them as missiles and even plastic ones have the potential to cause injury, someone should have ‘seen this coming.’

Booze-charged rugby league fans threw bottles on to Eden Park and booed during last night’s Four Nations clash between the Kiwis and Australia.

Six people were arrested inside the ground for disorder related behaviour.

New Zealand Rugby League chief Jim Doyle said he was disappointed in fans’ behaviour but he believed Eden Park management would have learnt a lot from last night’s test…

…Meanwhile, the roads around Eden Park became chaotic when cars tried to merge with pedestrians after the match. Roads were closed to ensure fans got into the park smoothly, a key aspect of the planning for the RWC. Read more here (link opens in new window)

The Sunday Star Times adds the following information

“RUGBY LEAGUE’S foray into Eden Park ended in disgrace with a bottle thrown at an Australian player and ugly scenes of crowd unrest which led to numerous arrests in Auckland last night.

As an early dress rehearsal for the rugby world cup, which will conclude at the same venue in less than a year, the double-header league match (England v Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand v Australia) was logistically successful but the crowd misbehaviour tarnished the event.

A bottle was thrown at Australian captain Cameron Smith as he lined up a kick at goal and the game was briefly halted after bottles were hurled during a Mexican wave. More here

But the situation is likely to occur again during the Rugby World Cup next year.

Some elements of the crowd could be heard booing during the Australian national anthem, Prime Minister John Key was disappointed at the “loutish behaviour”

“We’re disappointed at some of the loutish behaviour last night and hope it won’t transfer over to the Rugby World Cup,

At the end of the day people are going to pay a lot for Rugby World Cup tickets and they’ve got to realise if they engage in that sort of behaviour their actions are going to be taken seriously and they will be tossed out. “[Internationally] it’s not a good look.” source

The shameful behaviour also attracted international attention, this from LeagueFreak.com:

One other things from this game, the crowd behaviour was terrible. Bottles were thrown on the field (One apparently hit Petero Civoniceva  in the back) (ed. an Australian), people ran onto the playing surface….just ridiculous stuff in this day and age.

You may remember our blog Price gouging and cleaning up at the rugby world cup written in May.  In that blog we said:

Beer to be sold in cans despite opposition from police.

“Be sure to pack a hard hat and body armour if you’re attending any matches in New Zealand. If you’re playing on the pitch you’d better learn to duck:

Police pushed for beer to be served in plastic cups to minimise the risk of them being used as missiles by intoxicated fans, but it is understood there was also opposition to that from principal sponsor, Heineken…

“arranging tap beer facilities would have been costly for 9 of the 13 stadia which didn’t already have such facilities.” source*

Score so far: Sponsors 1, Police 0.”

If this can’t be controlled at Eden Park, what hope is there for the regional stadia?

Perhaps it’s time to put aside the interests of the principal sponsors and get tap beer facilities into every stadium asap.

*unfortunately that link is no longer active as the article has been withdrawn, however it is discussed on the forum at UAFC.co.uk

RWC fans trusted to behave with beer cans

Rugby World Cup organisers have settled on a deal to allow beer to be served in cans at matches during the tournament, despite initial opposition from police and Police Minister Judith Collins.

Police pushed for beer to be served in plastic cups to minimise the risk of them being used as missiles by intoxicated fans, but it is understood there was also opposition to that from principal sponsor, Heineken.

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully told Radio New Zealand the stakeholders in next year’s tournament had discussed the issue of how to serve beer, and tried to “steer a middle course” while allowing for cans to be served.

The way forward was to put some trust in people who would be paying a lot of money for tickets, and give police the capacity to deal with the minority who may step out of line.

Mr McCully said arranging tap beer facilities would have been costly for nine of the 13 stadia which didn’t already have such facilities.

He was confident fans would want to make the most of a unique experience in attending rugby World Cup matches and not risk being thrown out because of intoxicated behaviour.

If fans did step out of line, police would have enhanced capability to deal with them, he said.

Ms Collins said she had considered the proposal to allow the sale of beer in cans and was now comfortable with the arrangement.

Is Mr McCully still feeling confident?

A poster on the UAFC forum hinted at a possible solution:

Re: Watching rugby in New Zealand not all it’s cracked up to be

by mikerob » Tue Mar 30, 2010 3:39 pm

IMO the RWC in NZ is bit of a waste of time… won’t make money or develop the game globally… but at least you can get beer. In France 2007, they only had alcohol free drinks in and around the grounds.