Pitch invasion leads to stricter sevens security

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012

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Sevens fans can thank the barely clad pitch invader who tackled a player at this year's tournament for new, beefed-up security measures.

Hertz Sevens tournament organisers are introducing tighter controls for the 2013 event in Wellington, including increasing security checks on arrival, and issuing wristbands for over-18s.

Security issues were exposed during the tournament in February when a man in his underwear jumped a barrier and invaded the pitch to tackle a Samoan player.

Security numbers were doubled the following day, staff were provided with rugby boots to help them capture streakers, and increased measures were predicted for 2013.

General manager Steve Walters yesterday predicted spending "easily more than $100,000" on extra security by the time Wellington's biggest sporting event rolls around in February. Although arrests had fallen from 44 in 2011 to 15 in 2012, organisers were aiming for no incidents next year.

"Anyone getting on the pitch is a major frustration for us because it is an internationally televised event," Mr Walters said. "It cost thousands and thousands of dollars just because this guy chose to run on the field and do that."

Fans could now only drink alcohol if they were wearing an allocated wristband, and anyone "displaying drunken behaviour or if they are an obvious nuisance" will have it removed.

Continued misbehaviour would lead to eviction from the Westpac Stadium.

Wellington City Council will offer free water around the city, alcohol smugglers will be banned, intoxicated fans will be refused entrance, and no passes will be given after 6pm.

There would also be an increased police presence throughout the waterfront and the city during the weekend, Mr Walters said.

"We're not trying to be the fun police. We are conscious that people will be drinking, but we want them to drink like there is a tomorrow."

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- The Dominion Post

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