Dannevirke: Fracas forces ref to end match early

By Christine McKay

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On-field niggles led to a sideline brawl.
On-field niggles led to a sideline brawl.

Whether Dannevirke's second division rugby team, Aotea, make it to the final four in their Arthur Bowman Cup competition hangs in the balance after their game against Porangahau was called off on Saturday.

Although Gary Macdonald, the club development officer for Hawke's Bay Rugby, had a phone call from the match referee on Saturday afternoon, he was waiting for his verbal and written report yesterday morning.

"The referee phoned me to express his utter frustration at what happened at the game and depending on his report, the respective captains and administration will be called before the Hawke's Bay union's judicial tomorrow night," Macdonald said.

Meanwhile the second division remains in limbo until the outcome of all the processes are known, an anxious time for the Aotea seconds, club chairman Manahi Paewai said.

"We are waiting with bated breath to see if we are in or out of the final four and we're hoping things might go our way," he said.

Paewai said the incident which resulted in the game being called off with 18 minutes to go, appeared to show "a Porangahau player a bit annoyed with our fella and essentially head-butting him.

"Somebody joined in from the side and that sort of stuff ends up provoking everyone.

"However, I think the referee was going to continue the game but a derogatory remark to him just tipped it and he said, 'I can do without this stuff'." Macdonald said he'd also had a phone call from a Porangahau supporter who said the referee had "copped quite a bit from the sideline".

Aotea's Matty Lowe with the ball, about to make a run up the sideline.
Aotea's Matty Lowe with the ball, about to make a run up the sideline.

Macdonald said he would not want a referee's job.

"We are well blessed with referees in this union and I really admire them," he added.

"This is the first game we've had called off in the last four or five years, it's very rare.

"A referee might call a game off with a couple of minutes to go if he can see trouble, but nothing like this."

Macdonald acknowledged the relationship between Aotea and Porangahau was pretty good and two Dannevirke diehard supporters agreed.

"We're big time supporters of grassroots rugby," Morgan Te Ture said as Aotea scored a first-half try to take their lead to 12-3.

Staunch Dannevirke rugby supporters Morgan Te Ture (left) and Bruce Alexander, at Rugby Park on Saturday, delighted as Aotea lead 12-3 in the first half of their game against Porangahau.
Staunch Dannevirke rugby supporters Morgan Te Ture (left) and Bruce Alexander, at Rugby Park on Saturday, delighted as Aotea lead 12-3 in the first half of their game against Porangahau.

Mate Bruce Alexander was also relishing the game.

"The games between these two teams are always good and I've always had a lot of time for them."

And despite the altercation, Paewai said Aotea and Porangahau had a very good after-match function.

"Both captains spoke about the unfortunate end, but rugby is a physical game and there is some argy-bargy, but there were no grudges off the field from either team," he said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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