Rugby club giving rides to players and fans after post-match drinking.

A grassroots rugby club has blown the whistle on drink-driving.

The Bombay Rugby Football Club has launched a sober driver service after being concerned about several people from other clubs in the Counties Manukau province who had been stopped driving over the limit.

The club recently rented a van to take patrons who had enjoyed some post-match revelry home.

During the first night of service, 23 people were safely driven home.


Bombay president Geoff Kroef believed the move was a step in the right direction for the community.

"It's not just for players, it's for supporters and anyone at the club," Kroef said.

"We saw it as the right thing to be doing. If we can get them home safe then that's better for everyone."

Kroef hoped other rugby clubs throughout New Zealand would follow suit in providing a service so people could get home safely.

He was buoyed by younger players understanding the possible risk involved in drink-driving.

"From what we have seen I think the message is getting through to the younger players, it's actually older ones who think they're a little bit bullet proof."

Kroef said he was aware of people from several other clubs who had been caught drink-driving, which prompted action from the Counties Manukau Rugby Union.

Rugby and operations manager for the CMRU, Dameon Chaney, said he sent out a reminder to the clubs letting them know the dangers.

"We sent out a memo to all the clubs just to remind everyone to be responsible and that the police are out in force," he said.

"It was really well received, but I think the key thing for us is the hosts be mindful of drinking and driving."

Fellow Counties clubs Karaka and Onewhero RFC are investigating the possibility of a service and were seeking funding to help it come to fruition.

"We would love to be able to provide a service and the intention is certainly there," Maramaura Club president Russell Hana said.

"The players know if they lose their licence they're out of a job. We had an away game and a lot of our guys were carpooling, so everyone is aware of the risk."

The club rented a van to take patrons who had enjoyed some post-match revelry home. Photo / Simon Chapman
The club rented a van to take patrons who had enjoyed some post-match revelry home. Photo / Simon Chapman

Counties Manukau road policing manager Rod Honan welcomed the proactive stance by the clubs.

"You've got to applaud people like the Bombay Rugby Club for taking the initiative by looking after the health and safety of their patrons," Honan said.

"It's not only the responsibility of host and management but the players themselves."

Lewis McClintock from Auckland Rugby Union supported the initiative and said all 17 of Auckland's main clubs were committed to providing safe and enjoyable rugby experiences for everyone.

"We work very closely with our clubs to ensure their health and safety procedures align with best practice in all areas," he said.

"While we are not currently aware of any similar initiatives within Auckland Rugby Union, our clubs are committed to being responsible hosts in relation to the consumption of alcohol and welfare of their members."

Chris Tautiaga from College Rifles said team managers often assigned sober drivers to take team members home in club cars after events.

"A lot of the boys don't drink now because they treat their sport as their job and take it very seriously so there is always a sober driver around to take members home."

Honan said he was also aware of captains of club teams urging their players not to drink and drive.

"There's talk, people say 'that's enough for me, I'm driving tonight' so it's definitely changing," he said.

"When you're talking about it all the time and seeing the positivity out of the young folk then it's something that comes along with it."

Meanwhile, operations manager at North Harbour Rugby, Miles Marcroft, was supportive of any initiative that stopped drink-driving and was aware of at least three of 12 North Shore clubs that had a van and driver.

Northcote, Mahurangi and Takapuna had a club service available and the use of Uber and taxis was encouraged at other clubs.

Marcroft said there had been a shift in the attitude toward drinking at the community clubs.

"We have more players who are not drinking at all and they chose to drive their friends home and people are more inclined to use Uber as well.

"Our bar staff are also better trained than they were, even 10 years ago, so there has been a real improvement."