A Wales rugby supporter has complained to the Welsh Rugby Union after what he describes as a “horrendous” experience at the Wales v South Africa autumn international.
Michael Edwards, of Llantwit Major, says he and his wife, along with families seated nearby at the Principality Stadium last Saturday, were left soaked in beer after an “extremely drunk” spectator fell onto them from two rows above, knocking drinks and personal belongings “all over the place”.
The individual in question was not in control of himself, Mr Edwards alleges, and he claims it was a miracle that no-one was seriously injured.
The husband and wife and others were left to clean up the “carnage” left by the supporter.
Mr Edwards has since written to the Welsh Rugby Union expressing his disappointment and concern, blaming excessive alcohol consumption for the poor behaviour of some at the Principality Stadium.
He further argues the WRU should not permit the sale of alcohol inside the stadium while games are in play.
“It was an horrendous experience,” he told WalesOnline of the episode mentioned above.
“I consider myself a genuine supporter who goes to games to watch the rugby. It can cost a lot but you don’t mind paying out if you can spectate in a safe environment and not have your enjoyment spoiled by others.
“The way some people were acting at the game last weekend was ridiculous.”
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In his communication to the Union, Mr Edwards writes: “During the South Africa game my wife and I were seated in U36, row 12, seats 9/10. To my left were a family with a young child of about six years old who were enjoying the match as much as we were, until out of nowhere a male individual who was clearly extremely drunk fell onto us from two rows up. This individual was clearly not in control of himself.
“My wife and I were soaked by alcohol as were the other poor family groups that this gentleman fell through knocking drinks and personal belongings all over the place. It’s a miracle that no one suffered a serious injury.
“The gentleman was finally escorted away by police, leaving the poor people along with ourselves clearing up the carnage left in his wake.
“To add to this incident we then have to suffer a pitch invader in the 63rd minute of the match.”
Mr Edwards claims: “All of this behaviour comes down to one common denominator, excessive alcohol consumption.”
He asks what protocols the WRU have in place to deny entry to individuals who might be intoxicated, because, he says, “it would appear to me that anyone can enter no matter what state they are in”.
He adds: “This incident has left my wife and I feeling very vulnerable and questioning whether we will be attending any international games in the future because we quite simply don’t feel safe.”
The 51-year-old says he will not be renewing his WRU gold membership for the Six Nations and requests a full refund.
The pitch invader referred to saw an incident in which an intruder ran onto the field during play, potentially denying Wales a try as their replacement wing, Liam Williams, had to evade him just yards from South Africa’s line.
Mr Edwards told WalesOnline: “It was nowhere near what we wanted from a match we had been looking forward to.
“The guy who fell from two rows above sat back down after the incident.
“He must have hurt himself. I’m ex-military with 22 years’ service and when he landed right next to me he did so with a heck of a bump. He was creased and I honestly thought he’d broken his neck. I was stood there with my wife next to me, kids screaming and beer everywhere. I thought ‘jeez, this boy’s killed himself’.
“It was horrendous and it’s put my wife off completely. She won’t go to the stadium again.
“It actually took one of the parents who got covered in beer — he had two young lads with him — to grab the police and ask them to come and intervene.”
He added to WalesOnline: “Don’t get me wrong: I know I demanded money back in my letter to the union, but I don’t expect to get that. I just wanted the WRU to realise how serious I was and how disappointed I was on the day. Ninety quid’s a lot of money to have some big guy fall on you and to have to listen to some Springbok supporters effing and blinding every two minutes. Then you have to watch a guy running onto the field and interrupting play at a key moment.
“I’m no tea-totaller. I enjoy a beer as much as the next man, but I can remember the days where you’d have a few pints before going into the stadium and that would be it until after the game. The bars would shut and not open again until after the match finished or if they opened at all.
“The gap allowed people to sober up and watch the game.”
Mr Edwards believes there is one thing the WRU could do that would improve matters immediately.
“They have to stop the alcohol sales inside the stadium during matches,” he said.
“I know alcohol sales help provide funding for grassroots rugby, but if the current situation persists it’s going to kill the enjoyment for those who are there to enjoy the rugby in a safe environment. It’s going to kill the support.
“The WRU have done a good job in making sure many tickets don’t end up in the hands of corporate people in recent years; now they have to seriously think about how they are addressing the alcohol issue inside the stadium.
“The other issue is the late kick-offs which give people more time to drink beforehand.
“Taken together, it’s a dangerous mix.”
Would he attend himself for future games?
“I doubt very much that I’ll go again. I don’t think I’ll bother with the Six Nations.
“What happened last Saturday scared my wife.
“I’ve been a WRU gold member post-Covid. I was looking forward to getting back to the stadium and watching rugby again, to experience it after the return of supporters.
“But this has put me right off going there.
“My wife bought me the gold membership as a birthday present. It gives you free access to tours around the stadium, priority ticket sales. They sent you a nice little feather-pin badge and scarf and a little pack.
“It was nice. You could phone them up and get your ticket sorted.
“The issue is what you have to put up with when you are at the stadium. I won’t be renewing.
“I’m not looking for financial gain from this. I’m just looking for the WRU to be accountable for the issues that are arising in their stadium on match-days. For me, they are not doing enough for the genuine supporter who’s there just for the rugby. They are thinking too much about beer sales.”
The WRU responded to Mr Edwards by referring him to the Principality Stadium’s ground rules and in particular rule 7 which states: “Any person within the stadium or attempting to gain access to the stadium or grounds who is, or appears to be under the influence of drink or drugs may be ejected from the Stadium or refused entry into the stadium or grounds.”
They further state they have listened to supporter feedback in the past and introduced an alcohol-free zone in the north stand. “We encourage families or those who wish not to drink during the fixture to purchase seats within this area for future fixtures,” their response says.
Their email continues: “In future we encourage bringing any such behaviour to the attention of our stewards so they can address the individual as per our ground rules.”
It is understood there was spare capacity in the alcohol-free zone for the New Zealand game and the South Africa match.
Mr Edwards says: “I’m disappointed with the response.
“They sent me the bog-standard, run-of-the-mill, press release response — ‘there you go, shut up, we’re not listening here’.
“I want the WRU to take ownership when it comes to the question of controlling supporters inside the stadium. At the moment, I’m not sure they do so.
“That has to change. The state on some supporters coming out of the ground these days is shocking.”
The WRU has been contacted by WalesOnline for a comment.