Give the real fans a break

The criticism of rugby league after the scenes at Eden Park on Saturday night is unfair.

I was disgusted by the actions of some of those in the ground but the canning league is taking goes  too far.

Nearly 44,000 people attended and the police made six arrests. That is six too many but it is hardly the mayhem some are claiming.

The drunken louts deserve everything they get, but some of the statements now being made are an insult to ordinary league fans.

The Vodafone Warriors played 12 home games this season at Mt Smart without a single incident.

There was also a test at that ground involving Samoa, at which the only incident was a Toa Samoa fan running on to the end of the ground to wave his flag after his team scored in the dying seconds of the game.

That test, as with the others in Wellington and Rotorua, was played in great spirits. The crowds at all these events made a significant contribution to the atmosphere.

As an ambassador for the New Zealand Rugby League I am concerned that the great game of league has been tarnished by a handful of drunks.

But I will not sit back and let all league fans be painted as louts. The condemnation of the behavior we saw began on Saturday night at Eden Park, and it was led by the vast majority of ordinary fans who were sickened by what they saw.

What occurred can't be defended. It was not the fault of rugby league or its many genuine supporters.

Those involved in what happened should be ashamed of themselves, but I remain fiercely proud of the game and the Kiwis, and most of all of the thousands of wonderful people I have met through the game.

Sir Peter Charles Leitch KCNZ, QSM
Ambassador NZRL