By Devin Hermanus

Police are investigating a case of assault after a rugby player was alleged to have bitten off the fingertip of an opposing team member during a scuffle in a Western Cape club match in Brackenfell.

Strand United's Rida Collins needed several stitches to re-attach a piece of his left ring finger after a Brackenfell player was alleged to have bitten him during their Premier League A fixture on Saturday.

Brackenfell police station spokeswoman Erica Crous said police were investigating a case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm against him after Collins laid a complaint on Sunday.

The Brackenfell player was red-carded - with an automatic three-match suspension - before halftime for the incident, with a senior Brackenfell club official claiming that the referee had not had a clear sight of the players' altercation, and his player could not have bitten Collins intentionally. Club chairperson John Walker said yesterday that Collins had the player pinned down on the ground on the side of a ruck and handled him extremely roughly.

The Brackenfell player faced a disciplinary hearing with Western Province Club Rugby pending the results of further inquiries, Walker said.

He said both teams had had no on-field altercations and enjoyed a sociable relationship after games, including the one played on Saturday.

The criminal complaint by Collins after the game was a surprise, considering the post-match function and the rough nature of the sport, Walker said.

His club counterpart, Kader Fanie, said he could not bear to look at the piece of Collins's finger after it was picked up on the field.

He believed the Brackenfell player's bite was "a moment of madness".

Fanie, however, said the incident should not sour the relations between the clubs.