Police fear violence if All Blacks fail at cup

BY MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 05:00 02/10/2010
All Blacks
MARK TAYLOR/Waikato Times
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Police are preparing for a spike in violence if the All Blacks lose next year's Rugby World Cup.

This follows surges in domestic violence overseas in similar situations.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad has said the "possibility that the All Blacks will lose has entered into our risk management", and Superintendent Grant O'Fee, in charge of policing the cup, said police had done extensive research into the effects of test matches on crime rates.

After a Scottish Cup football final between Glasgow clubs Celtic and Rangers, Strathclyde police saw an 80 percent increase in reported domestic violence.

"Now 80 percent in reported family violence is very significant – only a small proportion of family violence is recorded, so that got us pretty excited and we discussed it with our partners at the [women's] refuge and we've looked at our own statistics," Mr O'Fee said.

"When I saw those Strathclyde ones I was bloody horrified."

In New Zealand, there was no discernable increase in domestic violence on test-match weekends whether the All Blacks won, lost or drew.

"That's not to say nothing happens, because the refuge tell us that they definitely do notice a bit of a change but nevertheless it's nothing like the significance of that one in Scotland."

Not all violence that was reported to Women's Refuge was reported to police, he said.

In terms of general disorder, while there was no significant change nationally, there was a small increase in disorderly and violent offending in the city where a test match was held.

"Rightly or wrongly I took from that that we're not as fanatical about rugby as I thought we were."

Mr Broad told an audience at the Alcohol Causes Violence conference in March that alcohol and unforeseen adverse events could lead to problems such as violence in the home.

Police were "extremely concerned about that ... and dedicated to doing something about it".

"The potential and scarcely foreseen possibility that the All Blacks will lose has entered into our risk management but we've been dealing with it very clearly because we don't want to be seen planning for that to occur," he said, drawing a laugh from the audience.

Women's Refuge said it had been working with police to counter the potentially negative effect of the World Cup on domestic violence.

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International research showed that, when sporting events went wrong, there was a spike in domestic violence, spokeswoman Kiri Hannifin said. "So if the All Blacks, dare I say it, lose next year, those people who have a tendency to be violent, this may give them an excuse to be more violent or to be violent again."

Alcohol, the Rugby World Cup and an All Blacks loss "could bode very badly for some families".

The All Blacks have not won the World Cup since 1987. A British news website this week labelled the 1999 All Blacks World Cup side, losers in the semifinals, as the biggest chokers in sport.

The team that bowed out in the quarterfinals in 2007 was ranked number 20. There were reports of Kiwis wandering around in disbelief after that loss.

Psychologists and political commentators have also debated the impact of big sports events on the outcome of general elections, with next year's to be held after the World Cup.

It has been claimed the loss in 1999 was a further nail in the coffin of the unpopular National government and a loss next year could be bad for Prime Minister John Key.

If the All Blacks won, however, the Government could benefit.

- The Dominion Post

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