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Durban - The ban on alcohol consumption on the Kings Park outer fields for all future Sharks matches has resulted in a fierce clash of the fans, many of whom have come out fighting against what they say is a draconian measure by the police and the KZN Liquor Board.
Others have welcomed the crackdown, saying rugby will benefit.
The tough stance of the police and the liquor board comes after the beating to death of former UK Royal Marine Brett Williams on the outer fields last month.
As of this weekend’s match against the Cheetahs at Kings Park, police and liquor inspectors will monitor the outer fields, and anyone caught drinking alcohol will be arrested.
In a letter to The Mercury, Sharks fan Peter Bodill, who has been attending matches at Kings Park for more than 45 years, said although the death of Williams was tragic, it had been the only such incident at the stadium.
“Why pick on rugby fans who have enjoyed this long tradition of having a ‘boerie roll’ and beer after a match? Take a walk around the many braais and camps that are set up on the outer fields after a match and you will notice a fantastic family atmosphere enjoyed by young and old,” he said.
Many respondents on websites, including IOL, private investigator Brad Nathanson’s Facebook page and other news sites, called the stance a “typical knee-jerk reaction”, and said the police did not have the capacity to control it. Hendri Jonker wrote that alcohol was not to blame, but people.
“This reaction falls in the same category as people who want to ban guns because the guns kill people,” he said.
Craig Dennis said: “Goodbye Kings Park. No more season ticket money from me.”
Jason Kelland agreed, saying: “Time to sell up and enjoy @ home with my family and friends… End of an era, RIP.”
However, Clint (no surname provided) wrote: “Many refer to tradition and the culture on the outer fields but, to be fair, it is a little concerning when you realise that this culture effectively revolves around getting drunk. Or at the very least tipsy.
“Society as a whole is seemingly far too accepting of drinking and getting drunk.”
Others said it was about time the stance was taken.
“That’s how it is done in Oz and it works. Thoughts to Brett’s family,” Regan King Hough said.
Another fan, Vera Howard, described how she, as a child, would go to the rugby games with her family. However, when she, as an adult, took her family, the experience was different.
Drunken men sat behind them “using the most disgusting language and their topic of conversation was nothing to do with rugby, it was absolutely our worst nightmare and when my husband asked them to watch their language in front of his family, they all laughed and dripped their beer on us”.
She has never been back.
But banning booze or not, Alpheus Nethononda feels the Shark Tank has been “soiled forever” by the “acts of those hooligans”.
“They embarrassed this beautiful game,” he said. - The Mercury