Rugby player punched, hospitalised during post-game handshakes

By Robin Martin of rnz.co.nz and is republished with permission

Taranaki police are investigating after a rugby player was floored by a punch as opposing players were shaking hands after a premier grade match at Yarrow Stadium on Saturday.

Taranaki Rugby Football Union (TRFU) chief executive Mike Sandle said a Coastal Rugby player was punched by a Spotswood United player as the teams were shaking hands “well after the final whistle”.

“The Coastal player was knocked to the ground, an ambulance was called and he was taken to Taranaki Base Hospital and examined, then later discharged.

“We are extremely disappointed that this incident has detracted from what was an entertaining game played in good spirits.”

There were no other players involved, Sandle said. Although RNZ understood there was a bit of pushing and shoving following the incident, which simmered down quickly.

Sandle said Taranaki Rugby had instigated a judicial process and was supporting both clubs.

He could not comment further because the incident was being investigated by police.

Spotswood United chairperson Shanan Dick acknowledged a member of the club had “physically assaulted” a Coastal player during the “customary post-match handshakes”.

“Regrettably, the altercation resulted in the Coastal player being knocked to the ground, necessitating medical attention. We are relieved to report that the player has since been discharged.”

A police investigation had been launched into the “distressing incident” and the club would be not commenting further, he said.

“Nonetheless, we wish to express our profound disappointment that such an event has overshadowed what was an otherwise enjoyable and spirited game.”

Spotswood United was committed to working with both clubs to address the “regrettable” incident, Dick said.

“Our utmost priority remains ensuring the safety and well-being of all players and maintaining the integrity of the game. Spotswood United has contacted both players involved and are supporting their well-being to the upmost.”

Coastal Rugby and Sports Club chairperson Janet Fleming referred RNZ to the TRFU statement, adding “Coastal Rugby have no further comment to make”.

Coastal were third in the points table while Spotswood were second from last.

Spotswood United lost the close match 29-35.

Te Whatu Ora Taranaki said a patient presented after a fight following a rugby match on Saturday afternoon.

“He was in a stable condition and discharged the same day.”

Police said they were making enquiries following a report of an assault at a premises on Maratahu Street, Westown, about 4.30pm, and were speaking to those involved.

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