Chief executive Dave Smith says the NRL will come down hard on rugby league fans at the centre of the ugly scenes that marred the finish of the controversial Good Friday clash between Canterbury and South Sydney.
Two men were charged with assault over separate incidents at ANZ Stadium, while those fans who showered officials with bottles following Souths’ 18-17 win are facing a life ban from the NRL.
Officials had to run from the field for cover and sideline interchange official Darren Alchin was later taken to hospital with a broken shoulder blade after slipping over in an attempt to avoid a bottle thrown from the stands.
“The scenes at ANZ were disgraceful. There is no place in the game for behaviour like that EVER. Expect a strong response where it’s due,” Smith wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
How the issue is dealt with, including Bulldogs’ captain James Graham’s and interchange prop Dave Klemmer’s exchange with referee Gerard Sutton after he awarded Souths a late penalty, will be a big test of Smith’s administration.
The league has come under constant criticism for its inconsistent handling of some of the game’s biggest issues, including player misbehaviour.
The NRL issued a statement on Saturday afternoon reaffirming Smith’s “disappointment” at what transpired.
“These matters were serious and extremely disappointing for the entire game and do not reflect the game’s values both on and off-the-field,” Smith said in the statement.
“We will be working with the police, ANZ Stadium and the Bulldogs to carefully review all matters regarding fan behaviour.
“Under the game’s code of conduct, there are a range of sanctions available to consider, which we will do in a thorough and considered way.”