A brawl which led to a red card handed out to a player who was not actually playing in a club game in South Otago will be investigated by authorities.

A mass fight broke out early in the second half of the game between Owaka and Crescent in Owaka on Saturday.

The brawl swung near the Crescent reserve bench and a reserve player from Crescent, who had been sitting on the bench, became involved in the incident.

After the commotion calmed down, referee Peter Standish gave a red card to the player, who was not playing the game.

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The player was forced to move away from the bench and did not take the field.

It is a rare occurrence for a player to be red carded when he is not on the field, but the referee took a hard line on the incident.

The game re-started and ended in a 29-14 win for Crescent.

Southern region chairman Tony Pringle said yesterday the southern board was busy trying to get details about the incident and exactly what had happened. The referee's report had been received but he was waiting to hear from other parties and then would decide whether a judicial hearing would be held.

Any player given a red card received a mandatory two week stand down under union rules.

He said it was disappointing the incident occurred but overall club rugby in the southern region had been played in a good spirit so far this season.