Calls to crackdown on drunk fans at rugby match days

A rugby fan is arrested at Cardiff Central Station by British Transport Police officers Credit: ITV News

There are growing calls for action to be taken against drunken Welsh rugby fans with claims they are ruining match days for others.

During the Six Nations, ITV Wales current affairs programme Y Byd ar Bedwar investigated the drinking culture in Cardiff when the national side plays at home.

Superintendent Andy Morgan from British Transport Police told the programme that policing intoxicated supporters can be very difficult for officers, and he claims the problem has worsened over recent years.

He said: “Unfortunately what we’ve seen over the last five years in particular is people coming to the game who aren’t day to day rugby fans.

“They don’t consider the impact their behaviour has on the people they sit or stand next to, or they people queuing alongside them. As a result of this it totally spoils the day for families, children, other people because of their selfish behaviour, which is unacceptable.”

Supt Morgan pointed the blame for disorder squarely at alcohol, adding: “Most of the trouble comes from people who are usually very mature, sensible people with families and responsibilities who know how to behave.

“But after drinking too much, common sense is lost and they don’t listen to people responsible for their safety and that’s when trouble begins.”

Supt Morgan believes Welsh rugby fans cause more problem for British Transport Police officers than football fans.

A Freedom of Information request has found that South Wales Police saw a 61 per cent increase in reports of violent crimes during home Six Nations matches between 2015 and 2017.

Over recent weeks many rugby fans have complained about anti-social drinking affecting the atmosphere within the Principality Stadium. Complaints range from people constantly getting up from their seats to visit the bar and obscuring people’s views, to more serious issues of crowd disturbances and anti-social behaviour.

Statistics show reports of violent crimes on match days have increased in the South Wales Police area over recent years

Rugby journalist Graham Thomas has recently spoken out about the drinking culture within the stadium after a fan threw a pint of beer into the press area, damaging a fellow reporter’s laptop. He describes the stadium as “the world’s biggest Wetherspoons.”

He told Y Byd ar Bedwar: “That is exactly what the atmosphere now feels like. It feels like a large pub.”

Mr Thomas now feels it is time for the Welsh Rugby Union to adopt practices used at football stadiums, which ban fans from drinking alcohol in their seats.

“Football regulations make the fan have to make a choice. Am I going to drink while the game is going on? And if you want to do that you can do that, or do you want to watch the sport?” he said.

“If you want to drink during a football match you have to stay in the bar area so the only people who suffer any consequences of that are the drinkers themselves.”

The WRU told the programme that the person who threw the pint into the press area left the stadium voluntarity. The WRU added that the behaviour of the crowd is something it takes very seriously and stewards are trained to deal with various situations.

The WRU also said bar staff within the Principality Stadium are instructed not to serve people they believe have already had enough to drink.

Following reports of negative incidents at Wales’s Autumn International fixtures, the WRU confirmed it would consider introducing and alcohol-free zone at the stadium in future.

The full programme can be seen on Y Byd ar Bedwar (available with English language subtitles) on S4C at 9.30pm tonight (Tuesday).