Hong Kong Sevens

Sevens fans angry over use of force by guards

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2008, 12:00am

Spectators at the Hong Kong Sevens have expressed anger at what they described as the unnecessary use of force against drunken revellers who ran onto the pitch, saying it spoiled the fun of a family event and embarrassed the city at the international sporting event.

The Post received several complaints from readers who said they saw the incidents, which happened at the end of the game on Sunday and involved security guards and Rugby Football Union staff.

Rosheen Rodwell, who took her two young children to the event, said she saw a well-built westerner wearing a Rugby Football Union shirt trying to drag a young man off the pitch by his hair.

Ms Rodwell, who was in the front row of the west stand, said she also saw a security guard dressed in black punching a young man.

'It was shocking,' said Ms Rodwell. 'The children around us were in tears. My daughter kept asking me 'why is he doing that?''

Sebastian Stamer said he saw the same incident. 'The guy punched him two or three times, and he did the same to a few others,' said Mr Stamer, who brought a number of overseas guests to the event. 'It made Hong Kong look very bad.'

Kate Watterson described how a man in his late teens or early 20s, who was 'obviously drunk', was held down by about eight people when he tried to run onto the field.

'Then a guy kicked him on the ground,' she said.

Michael MacMillan, who was standing near Ms Watterson, said that he was disgusted by what happened.

'The policemen in uniforms just stood there with their hands behind their backs,' Mr MacMillan said. '[The young man] deserved to be held up because he was drunk. I don't stand up for the idiot, but he didn't deserve to be kicked.'

The Sevens' veteran said that the guards were more aggressive than usual.

The police said they would follow up on the incidents.

The Rugby Football Union said more information was needed before it could comment.

An Australian visitor who ran nude onto the pitch at the Sevens on Saturday was fined HK$1,000 yesterday in Eastern Court.

Philip James Cornet, 34, a bank employee, said he had had too many beers and apologised for his conduct. Cornet pleaded guilty to a count of indecency in public for which he was fined the maximum amount.

Principal magistrate Garry Tallentire said Cornet had made a fool of himself and in doing so had ruined his clear record.