Southside pull the plug on Cairns comp
FNQ Rugby continues to feel the fallout from Saturday's off-field fracas, with one club withdrawing from the competition and witnesses complaining of drunken and abusive behaviour from crowd members.
The judiciary have handed Southside Crusaders youngster Liam Saumalu a six-week ban for an on-field incident that preceded his involvement in a fight with a Barron Trinity Bulls supporter in the stands.
That incident is the subject of an ongoing FNQ Rugby investigation.
But Southside didn't wait for an outcome before taking action, pulling out of the current FNQ Rugby senior competition and the forthcoming junior one to focus on its
future in the game.
Vice president and founding member John Robertson said Southside would address a number of issues with the union before proceeding in FNQ Rugby but didn't rule out a 2013 return.
He refused to go into the specific issues because he felt it would jeopardise talks with FNQ Rugby.
But one issue that will be on the radar is fan behaviour after several Barron fans were said to be intoxicated outside the designated drinking area and abusive towards Southside players.
Speaking yesterday, Saumalu took full responsibility for his run-in with a crowd member but insisted he had been provoked.
"Since Saturday I've regretted everything that I’ve done," the 19-year-old said.
"My anger just got the better of me and I exploded. I should have known better.
"My behaviour was just unacceptable and now what I've done is the final straw in the club's decision (to withdraw from the competition).
"It hurts. It really does."
Saumalu said members of the crowd verbally abused him and signalled rude gestures as he walked off the field after being sent off by the referee for a fight he instigated with a Barron player.
His reaction was described as "surprising" by current and former teammates.
"He's a quiet kid," former Crusader and current Brothers player Otto Suavai said.
"It's not in his character to do something like this."
Southside veteran Nani Moevao echoed those thoughts.
"It's an unfortunate thing. He's only 19 years old and he's just let the situation get the better of him," he said.
The Cairns Thunder Under-19 representative faces a possible lifetime ban.
It is unknown what action will be taken towards members of the crowd.
FNQ Rugby officials wouldn't comment because it was part of an ongoing investigation.
Early in his conversation with The Cairns Post, Saumalu said he crossed the barrier between the field and the crowd because he heard racial slurs.
Later he said he heard those comments after he had crossed the barrier and was grappling a member of the crowd.
When The Cairns Post contacted FNQ Rugby president Margot Richardson she was surprised, saying accusations had not been raised in reports from officials, players or independent members of the crowd collected since the incident.
Saumalu said he planned to raise the issue at his next judiciary meeting.
"If there were racial comments made, we will follow up on those strenuously," Richardson said.
"If the evidence presents such that those comments were made."
NEW CAIRNS.COM.AU COMMENT POLICY
We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Comments submitted without a full name and suburb/location will not be considered for publication. Please read our full comment policy and publication guidelines.