Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

All Blacks game marred after Eden Park helpline failure over drunken fan

Eden Park authorities have investigated the incident. Photo / Getty Images
Eden Park authorities have investigated the incident. Photo / Getty Images

A drunken rowdy man's unruly behaviour at the weekend's All Blacks game saw him eventually get punched in the face three times by an older woman.

The man's "annoying" antics were ruining the game for spectators seated around him at Eden Park on Saturday night, witness Stu Nesdale said, but pleas to the stadium's helpline went unanswered.

Eden Park authorities have investigated the incident and discovered there were technical issues on the night with some messages not being sent or received.

Mr Nesdale was at the game against Wales with a group of six workmates and family, as well as four children.

They had a prime spot in the front row of the North Stand and were enjoying the game until a drunk man, began getting louder and more "annoying" to everyone around him.

A couple, estimated to be aged in their 60s, seated in front of the man, seemed particularly riled, he said.

"He was loud, distracting, getting into people's personal space and just generally being unpleasant. Because there was an aisle between us a lot of the interaction was between the lady that did the punching and him. We were separated by about 2 metres but I could hear enough to be annoyed ... I don't know what he did but he did something to annoy the husband of the lady because I saw them swap seats but I wasn't sure why."

Mr Nesdale says he continued to try to watch the game but thought he would text the Eden Park helpline, the number for which comes across the main screen regularly throughout the game.

"I was trying to watch the game as well and wasn't keeping a total eye on it. By the time I started sending the texts for help I had had enough and I was definitely frustrated and concerned that something could escalate.

"I sent three texts over a period of 10 minutes. My first one, I gave the guy's seat number and I said, 'Guy 405 r 1 very drunk and annoying', and then about two minutes later I thought, 'oh, I didn't put the word help in', so I thought maybe you had to, so I text the same text again."

However, a few minutes later and just before half time, the woman suddenly turned around to the man and punched him three times in the face, leaving the man shocked and bleeding.

"The lady would be in her 60s and she's not big, she was quite frail, but she had some rings on her finger and I think that's what would have done the damage."

A woman from elsewhere in the crowd then came and grabbed the man, aged in his 40s, away. One of his friends also took off, while the two others in the group remained in their seats. The drunk man did not return, he said.

He text the help line 'help fight' and got a reply, 'Thanks for texting the Eden Park helpline'.

Mr Nesdale says he was disappointed with the lack of response and after the fight he ran up to nearby police who told him to put up his hand if there was any more trouble.

"[Security] didn't respond at all, so why advertise a help service if it doesn't exist. Maybe if Eden Park finds out what went wrong, maybe it's just a technical issue and they can fix it for the future."

Eden Park chief executive Guy Ngata said after investigating the matter together with his team and security, they discovered they hadn't received Mr Nesdale's text messages with his location, and a second text message sent from Eden Park asking for his location was never sent.

Mr Ngata said when the park was at maximum capacity during big games it did put pressure on the network. They would now look at transferring the service to the park's wi-fi to allow messages to be sent "in a more timely manner".

He admitted there was no point having a service if it wasn't working properly.

Mr Ngata said in future they will advise people to include all the information in one text so there was no need to go back and forward.

"Rather than just texting help, it will be help in relation to your seat, row and stand so that we can then reply in a timely manner ... because 10 minutes between a message coming in and [getting] a response from us ... is an issue and it could have come and gone or escalated when we could have resolved it earlier. It's all about timing with these things."

- NZ Herald

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