A melee between players escalated into a spectator brawl at a Hamilton club rugby game today, with police required to step-in.
Kevin Holmes was refereeing the Te Rapa Rugby Club v Frankton Rugby Club division 1 match this afternoon at St Andrews Park.
"It started on the field - a bit of a melee nothing that you normally wouldn't get in a game of rugby but then people from the sideline got involved," he told the Herald.
"We were just trying to work out what started the melee in the game and a fight started off the field as members of the public started coming on."
He said a group of about 6 to 8 people came from the other side of the pitch and attempted to get involved in the on-field scuffle about 10 minutes into the second half.
"The spectators carried on fighting. At that stage I took my assistant referees off the field," Holmes said.
"At no time did we feel threatened, but we stopped the game for about 10 minutes and I understand the police were called."
A police spokeswoman said police were called to a fight or reports of disorder this evening, however when police arrived it those involved had dispersed.
"I was just about ready to call the game off if it didn't sort itself out, for the safety of the players and the rest of the public that was there," Holmes said.
After the fight was resolved the match continued, while two players were presented with yellow cards for their role in the melee.
"I felt sorry for them, the game was going really well. It was a good game, it was a close game," he said of the two teams' players.
"You do get a little bit of a tiff in the game, that's natural, and as officials we try and get on top of that and sort it out, but it certainly doesn't help when members of the public get involved."
Holmes said he and his assistant referees will report the incident to the Waikato Rugby Union.
It is understood there were no serious injuries.
Te Rapa won the match 38-21.