Oregan Hoskins backs the South Western Districts RFU’s 15-year ban of Heidelberg Rugby Club.
The club was suspended after an investigation found that Heidelberg fans, carrying knives, broken bottles and pipes, invaded the pitch and wounded seven people, following their loss to Mossel Bay Rugby Club on 1 August.
‘I applaud the union for their strong action and the clear message they have sent to clubs – not just under their jurisdiction, but across the country,’ Hoskins told Sapa.
‘The implications for the Heidelberg Club are obviously very serious indeed and I have sympathy for those hard-working officials and members who had no part in this incident.
‘But a club has to take responsibility for the actions of its members and players and this kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable.’
The ruling sets a strong precedent for any future violence in club rugby.
For many years, Cape rugby clubs, especially those in the lower divisions, have been notorious for their violent transgressions and not enough action was taken to stop this.
However, the SWD RFU have been the first union to step up and make this emphatic a statement. Hopefully other unions will follow their lead, such as Eastern Province Rugby Union, who have also suffered a racial incident.
Police had to be called in during a match between Crusaders and United Barbarians after supporters were involved in racial slurs that spilled on to the field. Things got so out of hand that the game had to be temporarily suspended.
Only once the police arrived, the spectators calmed down and the match continued.
According to the EP Referees Society, conditions are so bad that some members refuse to oversee certain matches because of threats and racial abuse from the spectators.
Chairman Frans Muller, suggests that fans should be ‘banned for life’ from matches should they be found guilty of racial acts.
‘Clubs must manage their supporters,’ Muller told The Herald. ‘If we can identify supporters who are causing the trouble, of course we will take strong action against them.’
EPRU President Cheeky Watson also called on clubs to ‘take ownership of the problem’.
‘We are a young and growing democracy and rugby is a contact sport where people get passionate,’ he said, ‘but clubs must be accountable and we have told them we will take a strong stance against it.’