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Monday, November 29, 2021

Drunk Wales fan vomits on six-year-old boy leaving him ‘in floods of tears’

The location of the Principality Stadium, bordering St Mary’s street in the heart of Cardiff, makes it a phenomenal location for attending a Test match. There is certainly no shortage of bars and pubs to duck into with fellow supporters.

If you have ever attempted to negotiate that same street after a Test, however, you’ll know that it resembles a plastic cup-littered apocalypse, filled with drunken zombies.

Gradually those scenes of drunken chaos have been creeping inside the arena itself, with the Principality Stadium memorably described recently as the “world’s biggest pub”.

The story about the six-year-old boy who had his first rugby match tarnished by a drunken adult supporter is just one example. Wales’ game with South Africa a few weeks ago was similarly chaotic, and not only because a pitch invader interrupted a Wales attack after running onto the pitch reportedly for a £20 bet with a friend. Wales and South Africa supporters close to the press box also engaged in a full-on brawl near the final whistle, with stewards belatedly interfering to calm things down. And while less hostile, there was amusement in the same press area during Wales’ game against Fiji last week when another merry supporter nearby, enthusiastically on their feet and overly animated during the first half on a Sunday afternoon, was then practically asleep in their seat for the majority of the second half. Three years ago, a journalist’s laptop was damaged after being covered in a pint deliberately thrown into the press box by a hammered supporter.

The Welsh Rugby Union will rightly point to the fact that there is an alcohol-free zone in the entire north stand to prevent families from being caught up in any of the chaos. But even so, shouldn’t the rest of the supporters in the 74,500-seater stadium be able to enjoy a match without wondering whether a scrap is about to break out, or if a pint will be accidentally spilled down their back, or whether a supporter behind them will need to throw up or relieve themselves?

Comments from Mark Williams, the Principality Stadium Manager, after the South Africa game regarding the pitch invader incident suggested that the matchday experience at arguably the world’s greatest rugby stadium is “under threat”. 

“For more than 20 years this stadium has been revered across the world for its unique atmosphere and game-day experience. It’s extremely disappointing to think that by recent events the traditional game day experience is under threat and that we might be forced to look at additional measures that will impact on the fan experience in future,” Williams said.

Tackling the increasing frequency of those incidents now, rather than addressing them after a potentially serious incident in the future, feels necessary given how the matchday experience has changed in recent years. 

Of course, the vast majority of fans attending Test matches in Cardiff are well-behaved and respectful, true fans excited to see their country in action. But the drunken minority of supporters who cause chaos continues to increase in size. Perhaps further restrictions on the sale of alcohol inside the ground during matches are now required to stamp out the kind of unsavoury incidents we’ve seen this autumn.

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