ALBERTON Rugby Club hosted Diggers at home in the first of three pre-season friendlies on March 3.
Diggers are in the same pool as Alberton and it was always going to be a competitive game.
First up was the third team. The game proved to be very tight but in the end, Alberton won the game 12-7 after leading 12-0 at one stage. The win was a very good start for them nonetheless.
Next, the two second teams took to the field. Coach Jaco Botha was looking for a clinical display in the basic phases including lineouts, scrums and rucks. Anything else would be a bonus. They started off in the best possible way having gained possession shortly after kick-off. They attacked very clinically and moved the ball across the field in a number of phases. The player passed to was always in a better position and top class decisions were taken. The Diggers were all at sea due to the tremendous pressure they found themselves under and it was inevitable that the hosts would dot down sooner rather than later. All in all, in the first 20 minutes of the game, the hosts managed to score three tries without reply and led 19-0. The coach also got what he wanted with the set pieces being spot on and the rucks being quick. I must single out scrum half Gerchwon Hykes and fly half Ruben Carlese as being standout players.
Alberton had also acquired the services of a few Wits players in the offseason and these acquisitions proved to be very good without exception.
The game was a very poor piece of rugby, the likes of which I have never witnessed on a rugby field before.
One of the players ended up getting called back for a minor infringement by referee Quinten Pretorious. He turned around and had started to go back to his position but was pushed gently in the back by one of the Diggers players. It was really nothing that doesn’t probably happen every minute during a normal game. In fact, I don’t even think it would have been penalised. These situations, if one can call them that, are normally sorted out without incident.
However, the Alberton player for some reason took mighty offence to the situation and attacked the Diggers player viciously by landing several punches before anyone could intervene. It basically ended up as a free for all as some six or seven players from both sides decided to hone their boxing skills for the season.
I have seen big fights at school rugby matches but never at club level. What was really extraordinary was why the fight started. It was started because of a push – and not much of a push at that. The referee decided to halt the game once calm had been restored. I personally don’t believe that there is a space in rugby for these situations and any youngsters watching would have been given an incorrect view of how to behave.
I know that both coach Jaco, as well as club manager Rory Lategan, were very disappointed as any true rugby supporter would supporter will have been. Coach Jaco has a very high standard of ethics and plays the game in the spirit in which it should be played. I am sure that they – the coach and the club manager – will ensure that an incident like this never occurs again.
It was a good start to the season…except for the discipline of certain individuals.
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