Rugby players 'used flags to beat women'

A PAIR of rugby players wrenched sideline flags from a pitch before jumping a fence and using them to strike two women supporting an opposing team.

The shocking revelation comes as two Auckland rugby clubs await a referee's report into the off-field attack that saw a championship match end in chaos on Saturday.

Those at Shadbolt Park for the Peter Fatialofa Memorial Trophy said a parent of a Suburbs premier development team was celebrating her son scoring a try on the sidelines when two Otahuhu players suddenly turned on her.

"An Otahuhu player picked up a flagstaff from the sideline, jumped a fence and attacked the spectator," said Suburbs president Colin Farrell.

He said he was joined almost immediately by another player who plucked a second flag marking the pitch and made a beeline for the crowd.

Spectators at the match described the rugby players singling out the cheering mum and another woman who came to her aid when the attack started.

Video footage has emerged showing a woman surrounded by players, clutching a frightened young boy tightly to protect him from the fracas.

"Why are they attacking? They've got kids up there? What is wrong with them?" says an incredulous spectator as violence erupts in the crowd across the field.

Terrified women and children can be heard crying as heated exchanges take place between the opposing team members.

Today Suburbs president Colin Farrell said he was waiting for the referee to file a report which would include the on-field incident in the lead-up to the players taking out the poles and attacking the spectators.

He was due to hand his findings into the Auckland Rugby Union today.

At this stage an official complaint had not been laid by the club.

But depending on the referee's report a judicial hearing could take place as soon as tomorrow, he said.

"It's put a damper on everything," said the former All Black.

"They let themselves down pretty badly I think."

Farrell said police were called because the clash was off-field and considered to be in the public arena.

Police investigated the incident on Saturday but no arrests were made.

Otahuhu president John Roache said he had heard the game had been stopped early after a fight but was not aware of the details.

If the claims were true, he was "ashamed and very disappointed" and the players responsible would be disciplined and possibly banned.

"I don't know what the real story is but punching a woman is a no, no, no," he said.

"I apologise to the woman, the family involved and the club for whatever happened. We're not going to take that from any of our players."


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