The fight broke out right at fulltime when an Eagles official questioned the referees decisions before throwing punches at him. This is when the rowdy Eagles spectators on the grandstand started throwing water bottles and missiles at the umpires and the Gurias player before the crowd from the outer stand launched in from all angles and started beating and chasing the officials and the Gurias players.
Minister Justin Tkatchenko expressed his disappointment posting on his Facebook page saying that it is a “very, very, sad day for Rugby League.”
“The primitive and the uneducated action of the Hagen Eagles officials and supporters must be condemned at the highest level,” the Minister said.
Adding that we have all worked so hard to put Rugby League back on track to take our National Sport to the next level and as Minister I will not allow stupidity and the selfish actions of a few destroy this Sport.
“I will be directing in the strongest terms that the officials involved be banned for life from ever participating in Rugby League again and that a criminal investigation be carryout to arrest those that assaulted the umpires and players,” the Minister added.
He also stated that the Hagen Eagles must be deregistered and banned for life for not following and upholding the rules of ethics and laws of Rugby League.
“This is not the first time this Club and team have caused problems for the Code. We must never tolerate at all this sort of behavior.”
Minister Tkatchenko apologised to the People of East New Britain, the Gurias Management, Staff and players for having to go through such disgraceful behavior.
“I will do my best working with the PNGRFL to ensure new and tougher penalties are put in place so this disgusting behavior hopefully never happens again,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the instigator of the violence that broke out after the full time siren of the Digicel Cup match between the Mt Hagen Eagles and Rabaul Gurias is now in the hands of the police.
PNGRFL Referees boss Joe Peregua last night confirmed laying a formal report with the Boroko Police last night after an official of the Eagles assaulted match referee Aaron Henry while he was leaving the field on Saturday.
Assistant referee Paul Wani was also punched on the nose by the instigator while trying to stop him from trying to assault the referee in charge of the match.
As the referee ran back on the field for cover while being chased by the angry official, disappointed Eagles fans on the eastern side of the outer grand stand had by then invaded the field to attack the match officials and Gurias officials and supporters in the main grand-stand.
Eagles head coach James Kops said: “Yes, I am aware that police came to our hotel last night and were looking for the named official.
“But I am must say that none of our players instigated the problem. It was only one person in which you all know that caused the problem and we are truly sorry from our heart,” Kops said.
The fight spread out but only to be stopped by two police truckloads of angry police officers who had to retaliate after one of their officers got hit in the incident and was bleeding on the head.'
Police opened fired to disperse the rowdy crowd who invaded the field but several Gurias players took advantage of the situation to take revenge on the supporters which further triggered anger by the Eagles players who ran onto the field to stop the police and Gurias player’s.
PNGNRL administrator Stanley Hondina when asked about incident, said everything has been recorded by TV Wan where all the footages will be reviewed before they can make decisions.
“We do not condone this kind of action and to be honest, I never expected this to happen as we had a good season all throughout,” he said. Hondina also admitted that the penalty will be much heavier than that of the TNA Simbu Loins incident last year. Patron of the Eagles and Minister for State Enterprise William Duma who witnessed the melee said none of the players from both teams started the chaos.
“It was just one person that instigated the whole thing…and I must make it clear that no player was involved,” he said.