Sidelines 'unsafe': Weekly booze-fuelled incidents at league games - Kogonuso


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Nov 23, 2018

Sidelines 'unsafe': Weekly booze-fuelled incidents at league games

Alcohol-fueled abuse and assaults are just some of the anti-social behaviour that Canterbury Rugby League says is making sidelines unsafe.

It is calling on Christchurch City Council to ban alcohol at 20 parks across the city during league season, from March to September.

Canterbury Rugby League capability manager George Lajpold said 70 percent of their clubs were dealing with alcohol-related issues on a weekly basis.

"What we're hoping to do, I suppose, is to put alcohol back where we believe it should be. And that's back in the clubrooms," he said.

Under current bylaws, he said any member of the public has the ability to drink alcohol on the sidelines.

"And if an issue arises... our club members have no authority to ask them to leave."

The submission to council stated that some Christchurch league clubs had lost members because of what they'd experienced on the sidelines.

Mr Lajpold said this year alone, Canterbury Rugby League had seen people drinking at junior games, abusing spectators and officials and threatening people with weapons.

He said the ban would help them put a stop to "anything that goes beyond people enjoying the sport."

Two of Canterbury Rugby League's 16 clubs have tried implementing their own no-alcohol policies on the sidelines.

The Celebration Lions have had a booze-ban in place at their park since 2004, but club secretary Jazz Wynyard said it wasn't always easy to police.

"Drinking has always been a big social aspect of any sport. So people definitely think they have the right to drink at a venue, they can do when they want, where they want," she said.

"It is quite hard, if you're a club, to go up to people and say 'can you not drink at this park?'. If it's a rule, then people will more likely listen to it."

She said alcohol-related issues had not done much for rugby league's "grubby" reputation, but a council-imposed booze ban could help make the sport family-friendly again.

Also supporting Canterbury Rugby League's pledge to the council is Sir Peter Leitch.

In his five decades as Auckland's biggest rugby league fan, he said he had seen few alcohol-related incidents, but he would certainly like to see sidelines alcohol-free.

"I would prefer no drinking on the sideline at local games," he said.

"Never been a fan of that, you know what I mean, but in controlled environments like a club - not a problem."

Councillors are considering Canterbury Rugby League's submission and will undertake further consultation before reporting back to council.

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