Thu, Sep 24, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Teenager banned for 20 years after wild league brawl

REUTERS , SYDNEY

An Australian 16-year-old has been banned from playing rugby league for 20 years after a mass brawl in a junior final at the weekend.

Two of the boy’s teammates were also handed long suspensions, while another 10 players have been ordered to face a judiciary probe following Saturday’s punch-up.

Australian police are considering bringing charges against parents who allegedly cheered on their teenage sons during the fight.

One player suffered a broken nose and a fractured eye socket and several others were left with cuts and bruises.

“I am totally disgusted by the behavior that I saw in that footage,” New South Wales state assistant commissioner of police Denis Clifford told reporters yesterday.

“I think the footage of the parents cheering from the sideline and high-fiving the players involved in the brawl — it’s the thing that disgusted me the most,” he said.

While fights are not uncommon in rugby league, and players and parents have been given lifetime bans, the melee between Blacktown City and Lower Mountains could not have come at a worse time for a sport that has been plagued by off-field drama this season.

“What we saw was beyond unacceptable and I’m very comfortable that the sentences handed out are appropriate,” National Rugby League (NRL) boss David Gallop said. “I think the game has taken big steps in relation to the way we see our game on the field and we will continue to do that.”

He added: “Everyone was shocked to see such graphic violence on the field, particularly from very young kids and they need to understand that’s totally unacceptable.”

The amateur footage, which was broadcast on Australian television, showed several Blacktown players attacking their opponents.

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