Footbrawl rears its head in Lennox

LENNOX Head is a seaside village popular for beach-goers, sea-changers and holiday makers.

But when it comes to junior rugby the coastal hamlet may be a no-go zone in the future.

Last Friday night a one-sided brawl erupted between Lennox Head and Grafton in an under-15 match, which resulted in the game being abandoned and four Lennox Head players being cited.

The Examiner understands the Grafton players were attacked, punched and kicked in an act that locals described as despicable.

This is not believed to be the first time incidents like this have occurred in Lennox during junior rugby games or other sports played under lights.

When contacted by the Examiner, Grafton Redmen under-15 coach Brian Hyatt said his players were stunned and were in no way instigators of the fight.

“The Grafton players protected themselves and didn’t retaliate in any way,” he said.

“The referee blew the whistle when he thought one of our guys shoulder-charged a Lennox player, but it was more of a front-on hit.

“It looked worse as both players bounced off each other. It triggered the Lennox players to run in and they started attacking our guys ... there were three or four attacking one player.”

Hyatt said the game was eventually abandoned after the match referee asked the Grafton captain if his side wished to continue the game.

“Our captain was actually knocked out and was pretty dazed after the game. The referee asked him if he wanted to play on and to his credit he said ‘no...not if they’re going to keep on attacking us’,” he said.

Hyatt added it was an unfortunate incident and in his three years of coaching at junior level he has never witnessed anything like it.

“This sort of thing doesn’t happen elsewhere in the zone,” he said.

“Last year they pelted our team bus with bottles and sticks and the year before that I think there was a brawl in the crowd that spilt onto the field.”

Far North Coast administrator Wayne Millane said the referee’s report from the game has been forwarded to the judiciary with four Lennox players being reported.

“The judiciary will now deal with the issue. The players in question will not have to appear and a penalty will be handed down by the judiciary,” Millane said.

“The club has a right to appeal but if they do the players themselves will be required to attend the hearing.”

Millane confirmed the referee was in fact a member of the Lennox Head rugby club but praised the way he handled the volatile situation.

“The referee said he was absolutely disgusted in what went on and hoped the perpetrators will be severely punished,” he said.

He added youth behaviour has been a problem in Lennox, particularly when alcohol becomes a factor.

According to Millane security is provided at some matches as well as a police presence later in the evening when older age groups are playing.

Lennox Head junior co-ordinator Mark McDonald said he was aware of the incident and a report had been forwarded to the zone.

“The club is dealing with the matter and I have spoken to some Grafton parents and Michael Brookes (president of Grafton junior rugby union),”McDonald said.

“We have expectations of our players’ behaviour and any breaches of the code of conduct will be dealt with at a club level.”

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