South East Wales

Wales v New Zealand: Disabled man abused by drunk rugby fans

Beth Fisher
Image caption Beth Fisher said her uncle was abused for asking a group of men not to block other people's view of the match

Drunk rugby fans abused a disabled man at the Wales v New Zealand game after he asked them to stop standing.

Robin Hindle-Fisher was with his niece Beth Fisher at the Principality Stadium when they were subjected to what she called "a tirade of foul language".

She said her uncle, who has short arms caused by thalidomide, was abused after asking the group to stop blocking people's view of Saturday's match.

The Welsh Rugby Union said it would investigate the complaint.

Miss Fisher, 34, a former Wales hockey player who is now a BBC sport journalist, said: "It was a moment I don't ever want to go through again. Quite frankly, it's put me off going back to the rugby again.

"This is not just about physical remarks about my uncle, it's about verbal abuse at a rugby match we were all there to enjoy.

"Having spoken to people after, I know I am not the only one and this is becoming a serious problem.

"This was the most horrible feeling I've ever had... at any public event."

Image copyright Megan Evans
Image caption Geraint Evans said his daughter Megan was also insulted by the same group of men

Miss Fisher, who has been going to watch Wales since she was a child, said she had noticed more of a drinking culture at rugby matches over the past eight years, adding: "I genuinely think someone's going to get seriously hurt."

Geraint Evans, who witnessed the abuse, has written a letter of complaint to WRU chairman Gareth Davies.

Mr Evans, 57, was at the match with his daughter Megan, 22.

The chartered surveyor said it was "obscene abuse, mostly of a sexual nature, concerning his disability".

Miss Fisher did not hear this remark but was told it was "the crudest remark about the fact he has a visible disability".

Thalidomide was a sedative given to pregnant women which resulted in thousands of mothers giving birth to babies with disabilities.

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Media captionRugby journalist Peter Jackson thinks bars should be closed during matches

A complaint was made to a steward at half-time, but as they had not witnessed it, the men could not be thrown out.

Mr Evans said the men drank eight pints of beer each during the first half and left after about 65 minutes of the match, which Wales lost 33-18.

He said the WRU had a responsibility not to serve alcohol to people in the stadium who were visibly drunk.

"But the massive concern is the abuse of a woman and a disabled man, it was disgraceful and it really upset me," he added.

Simon Green, a coordinator with the Disability Hate Crime Network said: "Abusing an individual in that way is a criminal offence.

"There have been incidents where people have been prosecuted for less than that."

And fan Christopher George said he has written to the WRU after being abused by another group for asking them to stop swearing.

"I then became the target of the worst language you can think of and I've been going more than 60 years.

"These people show no interest in the game, it seems to be a day out to get absolutely plastered."

A WRU spokeswoman said: "We are legally bound not to serve people who look intoxicated and we employ ex-police licensing officers on site to reinforce this.

"Our stewards will remove supporters who are intoxicated and/or causing disruption to fellow supporters or behaving in a manner requiring police involvement."

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