England 14-28 Australia
RFU issue apology for Twickenham crowd behaviour
Scrum.com
November 17, 2008
Matt Giteau of Australia kicks the opening penalty during the match between England and Australia at Twickenham in London, England on November 15, 2008.
Wallabies fly-half Matt Giteau was showered in boos on his way to a personal tally of 23 points © Getty Images
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Rugby Football Union President Brian Williams was forced into an embarrassing apology on Saturday after Australia fly-half Matt Giteau was subjected to boos from the Twickenham crowd during the Wallabies' 28-14 Cook Cup victory.

Williams felt obliged to apologise to the Australian High Commissioner John Dauth, present as a guest of the RFU, after English supporters began booing Giteau each time he lined up a kick at goal.

The 80,688 crowd wasted no time in making themselves heard by greeting the Wallabies with a chorus of boos as they took to the field prior to kick off. The jeering continued throughout the match with Giteau, who finshed the game with 23 points, also the subject of a slow hand-clap for one attempt at goal.

The Western Force star was not the only one subjected to the crowd's frustration with referee Marius Jonker also being jeered as the home fans became frustrated with his decision-making.

Speaking to the Daily Mail newspaper, Williams said he was annoyed by the crowd's behaviour and aggrieved that a request for a stadium announcement to request respect for the kickers was not carried out.

"I am annoyed about it, very annoyed," said Williams. "I shall be taking steps to find out why the appeal wasn't made. I apologised to the High Commissioner, John Dauth, as we sat watching the game and heard the noise when they lined up their first penalty. I wasted no time letting him know how sorry I was for what I regarded as very bad manners.

"They are letting England down. After the second Australian penalty, the noise gradually got worse. Real rugby supporters don't behave like that because they know it's wrong to show anything less than complete respect to the kickers from both sides."

It is now expected that spectators will be asked to respect the opposition goal kicker at this month's clashes with South Africa and New Zealand.

"We will make an announcement before the game asking for respect to be shown to both teams. We do not want this to be repeated," added Williams.

The newspaper reports that the move to counter the noisy crowds is part of the RFU's growing concerns that the Twickenham spectators are taking on the traits more common at football matches.

A report from the RFU's Ethos and Culture Task Group earlier this year warned of, "some spectators at elite matches displaying the sort of hostility associated with some of the poor behaviour of some football crowds. There is a concern that some of the new audience coming to Twickenham do not have the same values as the traditional audience".

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