First XVs suspended after brawls

The first XVs from two Wellington colleges have been suspended from playing rugby this weekend after two vicious brawls that resulted in the referee calling off their game last Saturday.

Six players - two from Newlands College and four from Bishop Viard College - have also been separately charged with offences contrary to the laws of rugby, and their hearings will be held next week.

The Wellington Secondary School Rugby Union issued a statement yesterday expressing "total condemnation of what occurred" during the Premier 2 college division match at Newlands College.

The union's judicial committee, which met on Tuesday, banned both teams from playing this Saturday after considering written reports from two referees who were present at the game.

One person had refereed the fixture, and the other was there as a spectator.

The Dominion Post understands it was alleged that most of the players from both teams were involved in two separate all-in brawls during the second half. Some of those players were involved purely in an effort to pull their team-mates out of the two scraps.

Spectators have said the prolonged second brawl was particularly vicious.

It spilled over on to the sideline, at which point reserves from both teams also traded blows. Spectators were also verbally abused by the fighting players.

The referee called the game off after the second brawl. It is understood that nobody suffered any serious injury.

College Sport Wellington executive director John Hornal said yesterday that both teams had been suspended from all rugby until Monday.

The judicial committee had not reached its decisions lightly, he said.

"It felt the nature of the events leading to the match being called off, which brought the game into disrepute, required that a clear and strong message about such behaviour by players must be made to both the teams involved and to the wider rugby community."

The committee also decided that match should be declared a nullity, "as if each team had defaulted".

Newlands College had earlier been drawn to play Hutt Valley High School on Saturday and Bishop Viard College to play St Bernard's College. Those two teams will receive the competition points on offer.

Bishop Viard principal Teresa Cargo, who was at the game, said she was not impressed by what she saw.

"Neither school condones violence. I was at the game and what I saw was very disappointing."

Newlands principal Grant Jones said he would not comment until the committee had concluded its findings.

Both schools, which are in the bottom half of the Murray Jensen Cup competition, have rights of appeal against the committee's decisions.

The Dominion Post