Ben Hill is a reporter for The New Zealand Herald

Rugby officials slow to act on violence complaint, says grandfather

The altercation between a touch judge and a Papatoetoe player during an under-85kg match on July 30. Photo: Cheeky Photography
The altercation between a touch judge and a Papatoetoe player during an under-85kg match on July 30. Photo: Cheeky Photography

Auckland Rugby is investigating claims of violence in club rugby, including one of an 8-year-old boy being shoved and another where a match official says he was punched.

This comes after the Herald revealed last month police plans to have cops on the sidelines of school and age-grade matches in a bid to curb violent and abusive behaviour.

In the first incident, an 8-year-old Pakuranga player was allegedly at the receiving end of violence. Miles Hayward said his grandson was pushed in the back by a parent at an under-9 game against College Rifles.

"I feel that parents are getting away with too much aggressive behaviour towards referees and players," he said.

"He ran on and took exception to how his son had been tackled, he ran on the field and pushed my grandson. I'm bloody angry at this guy.

"He's trying to say he slipped and brushed my son's shoulder."

Neither the club nor Auckland Rugby were able to confirm the complaint had been received.

However, Hayward was unhappy at how long the complaint process was taking.

"It's been over a month now, and I'm bloody annoyed that nothing's happened. The longer it goes it'll just become history."

In the latest incident, on July 30, a reserve player acting as a touch judge during a game between his Pakuranga side and Papatoetoe in the under-85kg competition claims he was punched.

Photos obtained by the Herald show him being confronted and grabbed by the Papatoetoe player.

Auckland Rugby spokeswoman Libby Gudmundsson said the complaint would be heard at an independent judicial hearing next week.

"There's not much more I can say given that it now sits with them to make that next decision."

She could not say how long the judicial process would take.

Papatoetoe Rugby Club chairman Rick Steedman was first notified of the complaints by the Herald.

"I'm aware there was a game with some incidents in it, but I haven't heard anything from Auckland Rugby. That was probably one incident in a game that had a lot."

He had followed up with calls to Auckland Rugby but was yet to hear back.

Pakuranga United Rugby Club general manager Steve Hackett said as the matter was now with the judiciary he would not comment.

Disclaimer: Ben Hill is a member of the Pakuranga United Rugby Club, although he is not directly involved with any of the teams mentioned.

- NZ Herald

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