Dad forces son, 9, to punch player

By Anna Leask, Corey Rosser

Parents and players were shocked as the man screamed at his young son. Photo / Thinkstock
Parents and players were shocked as the man screamed at his young son. Photo / Thinkstock

An enraged father dragged his son across a rugby league field at an under-9s game and forced him to punch another boy in the face, despite his cries of protest.

Parents and players were shocked as the man screamed at his young son to "hurry up and do it" before the Howick Blue player punched the Papakura Owls boy in the side of the face after an on-field scuffle in a match on Saturday.

The Papakura player's mother said the incident began soon after both 9-year-olds ran from the field in tears after exchanging punches following a tackle. Her son hurt his hand and the other boy had a bleeding nose.

"They were on opposite sides of the field. The boy's father dragged him right through the middle of the game. The boy was crying and saying, 'No, no, no'," said the woman, who did not want her name published.

"All of a sudden this huge guy grabbed my son and held him and said, 'This is the one'. Then his son punched my son in the side of the head. It wasn't a hard punch; he obviously didn't want to do it."

She said the father was yelling and swearing as other parents stepped in to defuse the situation.

Yesterday, Howick Hornets club chairman Bruce Campbell said he reported the incident immediately to the Auckland Rugby League.

"Yes, the [Howick] father has grabbed his kid and dragged him down and said, 'Now you punch him'," he said. "It's inappropriate behaviour and we will be dealing with it."

A meeting was held on Tuesday night to discuss the incident.

"We've obviously got some very concerned parents ... Obviously this father, this is the way he's been brought up. It's pretty clear that he doesn't know that he's doing wrong.

"The boy knew that this was not the right thing to do. It's not something that he was comfortable with. We've got to break the cycle."

He said the father had been banned from all games "for now".

Mr Campbell has organised for the Ministry of Social Development's It's Not OK anti-violence team to hold two education sessions at the club - which the father will be expected to attend, among other anger management programmes and treatment.

"Where this particular parent is concerned, he's not allowed to attend any games going forward. We're going to put him through this programme and try and educate him.

"Obviously if that doesn't work, he won't be able to attend any games, ever, which would be a shame. I'm going to meet with him in the next couple of days and just lay out what needs to happen ... A life ban would not be out of the question.

"We want the young fellow who had his nose punched to continue to be a part of enjoying sport, and part of that, I think, is having his dad come along to watch him. So we need to try and help the guy out here.

"We think the first instance is to try and educate. You need to know this stuff. It's good for our game and it's good life skills," he said.

The Papakura player's mother was happy with the steps taken to address the situation.

"I just hope he [the Howick player's father] can learn from this. This could have turned into a really dangerous situation," she said.

Auckland Rugby League committee member Evelyn Brooker, who was at the domain when the incident happened, said the organisation would work with both clubs to resolve the matter.

A spokesman for the Papakura Owls commended Howick on their reaction. "Howick dealt with it really swiftly and appropriately."

- NZ Herald

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