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Rugby riot reveals partisan principals -

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Rugby riot reveals partisan principals

Kerri Ritchie reported this story on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:50:00

ELEANOR HALL: To New Zealand now where a schoolboy rugby match turned very ugly over the weekend.
Some of the players began fighting in the dying moments of the game and then scores of spectators
ran onto the ground to join in the brawl.

But the principals of the two schools say they already know who started it - the other team.

New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie.

(Excerpt from football commentary.)

KERRI RITCHIE: More than two thousand people turned up to watch Saturday's semi-final between
Auckland Grammar and Kelston Boys High School. All Black coach Graham Henry was there, having
worked as a teacher at both schools he was keen to see what young talent was around.

But just before the final whistle, things turned very bad.

(Excerpt from football commentary)

COMMENTATOR: Ooh that come from nowhere too, that's unprovoked.

COMMENTATOR 2: That's a shocker...

(End excerpt.)

KERRI RITCHIE: In the TV pictures, one woman can be seen on the sideline, trying unsuccessfully to
calm things down. But more and more spectators run in, wrestling and swinging punches.

Auckland Grammar principal John Morris says from where he was standing, it was very clear that a
Kelston player started all the trouble.

JOHN MORRIS: My vision was fairly clear. We'd scored a try. There was around about a minute to go
at that point in the whole game and as our guys tried to get up to celebrate one Kelston boy came
in and clobbered one of our players.

KERRI RITCHIE: But he says adult Kelston supporters were a bigger problem.

JOHN MORRIS: That would have actually fizzled out and finished but then spectators ran 50 metres
across the park on the Kelston side to get involved and these weren't just boys, young men, these
were adults. They exacerbated the situation.

KERRI RITCHIE: But Kelston principal Steve Watt says an Auckland Grammar player hit one of his

STEVE WATT: It was a punch that was thrown into his back and he reacted to it. If you have a look
at the footage he was, once that happened he actually reacted to it. Spectators became involved and
it was spectators from both schools.

KERRI RITCHIE: He says Auckland Grammar supporters also made derogatory comments.

STEVE WATT: Well, the comment that came to me was "don't bother explaining it to them ref, they
can't read". Which if that is true, I've taught at Auckland Grammar, an old boy of the school and
if that is what comments are coming out of there, I think I'd find it pretty to take.

KERRI RITCHIE: Manoj Daji is the chief executive of College Sport in New Zealand. He says the
behaviour of supporters on the sideline has recently deteriorated - and he thinks New Zealand's
long-running recession might have something to do with it.

MANOJ DAJI: You know in these tight economic times there are people turning up to matches, stakes
sometimes are high. I think expectations of some parents are a little bit unreasonable. With that
tension and people thinking well, maybe it is not as organised and serious as perhaps club sport or
provisional sport that they can behave in this manner and it is not acceptable at all.

STEVE WATT: At Saturday's game, when the fighting finished, the schoolboys on the opposing teams
were made to shake hands - some even hugged.

But their earlier violence is the talk of the town in Auckland - the footage has been all over the
TV. But the three hosts of a Sky TV rugby show, couldn't decide if the brawl was something that
should be condemned, or laughed about.

COMMENTATOR: Yeah, it was good to see them at the end. I mean they are not old enough to have a
beer obviously after a match but they had a cuddle and all made up and hopefully everything...

COMMENTATOR 2: So it makes it alright having a bit of romance, a bit of a cuddle.

COMMENTATOR 3: You can have biff, if you have a cuddle.


COMMENTATOR 3: Bring back the biff and the cuddle.

COMMENTATOR: If you've got the biff and the cuddle, you know, you're fine.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, there you have it. The hosts of the Sky TV Rugby Show ending that report by our
New Zealand correspondent, Kerri Ritchie.