Victor Matfield (Gallo Images)
Birmingham – Senior Springbok Victor Matfield has condemned the supposed South African fan who invaded the Villa Park pitch here and got involved at a live breakdown in the dying stages of their 46-6 World Cup triumph over Samoa on Saturday.
In an event not dissimilar to the infamous “Piet van Zyl” incident at Kings Park in Durban back in 2002, the generous-bellied spectator, wearing jeans and a Bok jersey, ran on and started pushing Samoan players on the deck.
Nearest Bok Duane Vermeulen quickly grabbed at his collar to try to thwart his intentions, but he escaped the big eighthman’s clutches before being finally tossed to the ground by one of the Samoan players.
Referee Wayne Barnes of England could be heard saying “don’t be silly, don’t be silly” as he swiftly blew play to a halt in response.
Security officials then marched the fan down the players’ tunnel, to the sound of widespread booing from the stands.
Speaking at the post-game press conference (not attended by captain Jean de Villiers because he had to go for an X-ray after suffering another worrisome jaw injury), deputy and pack leader Matfield said of the pitch violation: “We are a proud nation ... proud of what we stand for. So it is always a pity when you see that; guys coming onto the field.
“You can’t blame all the fans – it’s one bloke who did a stupid thing. Normally our fans are fantastic ... they stay off the pitch and support the team in the right way.”
Comparisons were quickly, inevitably made with Van Zyl’s more violent intrusion in a Tri-Nations fixture against New Zealand 13 years ago.
Then, the spectator in question made a beeline for Irish referee Dave McHugh, dislocating the official’s shoulder as he bowled him over, before being subdued by the combined efforts of the All Blacks’ Richie McCaw and Bok loose forward counterpart AJ Venter.
The hefty Van Zyl was later convicted of trespassing and assault, and banned from all rugby matches in South Africa for life.
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing. Rob is attending the pool phase of RWC 2015 to provide news and analysis for Sport24 readers.