Bulls come down hard on fan
The Vodacom Bulls have reiterated they have a “zero tolerance policy” after a fan was arrested on Saturday night for throwing a water bottle at Blues captain Keven Mealamu after the team’s 29-23 loss.
The fan, identified by the Bulls as Johannes Gideon Nel, jumped over the fence late in the game and threw a bottle of water, striking Mealamu “flash on the back of the head”.
He was immediately arrested and escorted to the stadium security control room, before being taken to the Sunnyside Police Station where he was charged with assault.
The Bulls have come down hard on the fan, with CEO Barend van Graan condemning his behavior at the game, saying “it is not welcome at Loftus”.
“We absolutely refuse to accept this unsportsmanlike behaviour and have arrested the individual. The Blue Bulls Company works tirelessly to create an environment that is friendly and fair to all ages, races and nationalities.
We want to warn our fans that irrespective of our on-field performances, we will not accept ‘fans’ taking out their anger on our opponents. We will respond to this matter timeously and follow the necessary procedures in order to ensure that this individual learns his lesson,” Van Graan said in a statement.
“We will continue to enforce even stricter security measures as behaviour like this is not welcome at Loftus.”
Blues team physiotherapist Mark Plummer, Bulls wing Bjorn Basson and a touch judge shielded Mealamu as the confrontation threatened to escalate after the final whistle.
Team manager Bryce Anderson told the New Zealand Herald that while the bottling hurt, Mealamu wasn't injured, just shocked.
Basson took the incident further, giving the spectator his opinion in no uncertain terms as he was carted away.
Blues coach Pat Lam played down the incident, as did Mealamu afterwards.
'A BIT ANNOYED'
"He's obviously a bit annoyed by it. He's not happy but he's okay now,'' Blues coach Pat Lam told the NZ Herald.
"He's in a bit of trouble,'' Lam said of the offender, a thin man of advancing years dressed in a Bulls jersey. "It's in the hands of the police. They have the footage and everything and so we'll just go through the process.''
The Bulls apologised twice to the team afterwards, which was accepted by the Blues.
Blue Bulls Company CEO, Barend van Graan telephonically apologised to Mr Bryce Anderson, the manager of the Blues.
“Our High Performance Manager, Mr Ian Schwartz apologised to Blues captain Keven Mealamu at the post-match conference. Mr Mealamu not only accepted his apology on behalf of the Company, but was also impressed with the way in which we immediately sorted out the matter.
"I have spoken to Mr Anderson and apologised on behalf of our board of directors, managers, Bulls team and supporters. I am delighted that Mr Anderson and Mr Mealamu have accepted our apology for this unfortunate incident.”
Bulls captain Pierre Spies sent an apology on twitter to the Blues team, saying: “Just want to apologise to Kevin Mealamu & Blues team for the incident with one of our fans- shouldnt happen mate, you’re a good man.”
Basson added his opinion with a plea to fans to remain calm at games.
“Fans really means a lot that you want to stand up for us players but please do not throw things at the opp. It's not cool and does not help!”
But it was left to Blues halfback Piri Weepu to sum it all up, as he used the social network to spell out his feelings.
"To the clown that jumped the fence and threw a bottle at Kevin's (sic) head!! Your (sic) a loser!!'’ Weepu tweeted.