Living and playing the game down south, I obviously don’t have much connection to the BARLA scene. All I really get is to see the results from the NCL and the County leagues occasionally, and to see banter and chit-chat on internet forums. One team I’ve gathered that has a… erm, reputation for intimidatory behaviour is Queens ARLFC, and this was pretty much confirmed to the general public yesterday (it’s made national papers) when their Challenge Cup game at Doncaster was called off after 62 minutes due to crowd trouble.
All the reports coming out of this imply a combination of under-stewarding, iver-drinking and people seemingly out to cause a ruckus instead of watching a competitive game (the score was 16-12 Donny when the game was called off). There have even been reports of the Queens’ fans attacking youths which if true is disgraceful. A sports photographer was at the game and has unfortunately taken down his picture of the crowd trouble, because as they say a picture paints a thousand words. Still, this RLFans thread gives you a general idea of what went on.
It’s hard to know what to make of this. In terms of Doncaster, I imagine they are given the win and go through (the result of a game usually stands once the clock goes through 60 minutes) but you have to wonder if there will be recrimination from the RFL for poor organization (which would seem harsh as they’re only tenants of the Keepmoat Stadium, who should have organised the stewarding properly). As for Queens, the fact that many eyewitnesses say their players went over and applauded their fans after the game doesn’t bode well at all and with their reputation preceding them you would have to expect a very heavy punishment from the RFL and BARLA. Quite frankly, people who just want to go watch a game of Rugby League don’t need shit like this and if that means banning Queens from any competitions then so be it. Behaviour like this cannot be tolerated at any level of the game, and the RFL and BARLA need to get this message across.
EDIT: Here’s a link to the BBC Local News report on it, complete with rather shocking video footage.