SANZAR calls Bulls to account
Sydney - SANZAR has contacted Bulls officials demanding improvements in
ground security after All Blacks hooker and Blues skipper Keven Mealamu
was hit by a bottle during the team's win at Loftus Versfeld in
Mealamu was sitting on the sideline, after being a late
substitution in the Blues' 29-23 win on Saturday, when he was hit in the
head by a bottle from a Bulls fan, who had made his way onto the field
at the end of the game.
Mealamu scuffled briefly with the spectator before the
fan was shepherded away by Bulls winger Bjorn Basson. This is not the
first time visiting players and officials have been involved in clashes
with fans. Even referees have been subjected to on-field scuffles with
spectators who have jumped the fence.
The most notable was in 2002, when Irish referee David
McHugh was attacked by Springbok supporter Pieter van Zyl during the
South Africa-New Zealand Tri Nations Test in Durban. Wallabies players
have been pelted with oranges during South African Tests and a Waratahs
official was attacked by the Cheetahs team mascot several years ago.
Security was also tightened during the last Wellington
Sevens tournament in New Zealand after a pitch invader tackled a Samoan
Blues head coach Pat Lam confirmed Mealamu was not hurt
but said he was ''obviously a bit annoyed that it happened''. ''They've
got it on footage, so I'd say that guy is in a lot of trouble,'' Lam
SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters said he had written to
the Bulls for a full report. ''These incidents are thankfully
infrequent but you don't want any of them,'' Peters said on Sunday. ''We
understand police are handling the incident.
''That's a separate process, but we will also be making
sure that the security provisions the Bulls have in force are reviewed,
to ensure they are absolutely the best they can be, because protection,
welfare and safety of our players is paramount. If there is anything
that can be learnt from this incident, it is that we shall be making
sure all our grounds are as safe as they possibly can be. You don't want
players having to look over their shoulders and be worried about what
is going on behind them.''
The incident marred an important victory for the Blues,
which also involved their winger Rene Ranger receiving a yellow and
white card from referee Steve Walsh for not using his arms in a tackle.
Ranger was later cited for alleged foul play.
The Blues relied on 20-year-old flyhalf Gareth
Anscombe making a dream starting-XV debut, scoring all the points
through two converted tries and five penalty goals to secure their first
win in Pretoria since 2003.
The Sharks, meanwhile, extended their unbeaten record over the Lions to 12 years when they won 32-20 in Johannesburg.