Children left in tears after coach assaulted during junior rugby game

Children were left in tears when the coach of a junior rugby team was allegedly punched in the face by a spectator during a game at a Dunedin ground on Saturday.

Police are calling for anyone who witnessed the incident at Bathgate Park about 10am to come forward with details.

The incident happened at a rugby game involving children aged 8, police said.

“Violence in any form is unacceptable, particularly when witnessed by children, and police will investigate.”

The Otago Daily Times understands the coach of one of the teams at Bathgate Park, home of the Southern club, was refereeing the game when he was allegedly assaulted.

The game was between the Southern Magpies and Kaikorai Demons.

A member of the Kaikorai Demons club detailed the incident and the aftermath in a Facebook post

“Pretty hard to write this report as our young kids were left in tears after being exposed to some of the most disgusting behavior from the sidelines that I have ever witnessed.”

“Swearing, threats, and my co-coach / ref taking a punch to the face.”

He credited the performance of the Kaikorai players, who were leading 70 points to 15 when the game was called off.

“Aside from the ugly behavior witnessed, I have never been so proud of this team.”

Otago Rugby Football Union chief executive Richard Kinley said he was aware of the incident.

It was “inappropriate to comment” until he had more information, he said.

Kinley said the union took every incident seriously

“Any incident is one incident too many,” Kinley said.

“It’s totally unacceptable.”