Every sport would like booze ban in parks

Last updated 05:00 10/07/2012
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It is not likely any sport in Canterbury would oppose an alcohol ban in Christchurch City council parks, Canterbury Rugby League general manager Craig Kerr says.

In reply to comments made by former league referee Stan Hansen in The Press yesterday, Kerr said that boozing spectators were part of a culture of threatening behaviour towards touch judges and referees at league matches in Christchurch.

Hansen, who was the New Zealand Rugby League's southern zone referees committee convener and the top whistleblower in Canterbury, resigned last week after sentences handed down by the CRL to participants in a brawl at a 16-years match he controlled in May were reduced on appeal last week by an NZRL committee.

Kerr said sports seeking an alcohol ban at parks would need council support.

"I've had a couple of discussions with people from the council about drinking in parks but nothing formal. Until the council supports a ban across all their parks there's little we as sporting bodies can do," Kerr said.

"Unfortunately, the council's attitude is that it's a public park and if people want to go down there and have a picnic and a glass of wine and a bottle of beer with their families, then they're entitled to do that.

"It's always the same. There's one or two idiots who spoil it for the rest of the supporters," said Kerr.

"It's life really. I'm sure if you spoke to every sport in the city about having alcohol banned from our grounds they would jump for joy at a ban."

Hansen said clubs have to get the message across that it is not OK to abuse touch judges and referees.

Kerr said Hansen's views were "not necessarily the view of Canterbury Rugby League".

"He probably wouldn't have made them if he still held an official position in our organisation. I suppose the fact that he has resigned he's felt the muzzle can come off," Kerr said.

Kerr did admit there was a general concern among referees about ongoing sideline behaviour this year and that the points Hansen made were fair.

"The Canterbury Rugby League has been working hard with all its clubs this season to improve spectator and player behaviour. Some clubs are taking the problem on board more than others, and the ones that aren't we will have to continue to work with."

Kerr said that all clubs had issues with spectator behaviour this year.

"The big question though is how do you control spectators. That's the million-dollar question.

"It's not just rugby league that has these issues. It's a number of sports and from kids games through to adult level."

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Kerr said the CRL had done its best to support Hansen and the referees, but it's "something beyond our control".

The Northern Bulldogs club, who along with the Celebration club were involved in the brawl at the 16-years match on May 16, are expected to further appeal the ban handed down to the trainer of the Bulldogs team, Mathias Pitima, which was reduced on appeal last week from 12 to nine months, the same as a ban applied to Glen Bradbrook, the trainer of the Celebration team.

The Bulldogs believe Pitama was less culpable than Bradbrook.

The club's committee was meeting last night to decide if they would appeal.

Two senior Wairarapa rugby referees have refused to officiate again this season in protest at the high level of abuse they're receiving from fans and players. Goff Moorcock, who has refereed for 25 years, said he had "had a gutsful" of being abused.

- The Press

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