Manu Tuilagi smashes Tom Williams

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JDV smashed by Benoit August

The Northampton Saints 30m scrum!

Bastareaud huge hit on Rory Lamont

All Blacks skills - Pt 2 In the backyard

Trinh-Duc sets up Harinordoquy try

Wales vs England 1999

Greg Holmes great hit on Francois Louw

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Midweek Madness - Bok fan attacks ref in 2002

In one of the most shameful incidents to be seen on a rugby field in the history of South African sport, August 10, 2002, will always be remembered as the day that a drunken Bok fan attacked Irish referee Dave McHugh in Tri Nations meeting between the All Blacks and South Africa in Durban.

Referee McHugh was not having his best game to say the least, with more than one controversial decision that had the local crowd fuming in the heated tension of a clash with arch rivals New Zealand.

I myself was there, in the crowd, when early in the second half the atmosphere got the better of lunatic Springbok fan Piet Van Zyl. I watched him run, or should I say waddle, onto the field from underneath the stand I was sitting at.

Middle-aged van Zyl, clad in jeans and a faded Springboks jersey straining to hold in its contents, attacked referee McHugh, wrestling him to the ground. He was quickly pulled off by the rescuing party of Richie McCaw and AJ Venter, who rushed to McHugh's aid, but not before the referee suffered a dislocated shoulder.

He was carried off on a medical buggy, and an unrepentant van Zyl, nose bleeding after taking a few slaps from Venter and McCaw, was led away with a broken nose by police, to later face a lifetime ban from South African rugby grounds, as well as assault charges.

An unrepentant Van Zyl later emphasised that he did not regret his actions.
"Don’t forget that the incident happened when the referee closed his one eye and ceased to see the Springboks. I am therefore not sorry that I did what I did. If he, the referee, didn’t do what he did that incident would not have happened."

His grudge against McHugh has existed since the notorious 1995 'Battle of the Boet', the match between Canada and South Africa which McHugh refereed. During that game McHugh gave James Dalton a red card for trying to stop a fight.

Piet Van Zyl's actions were moronic, and the incident was and still is ridiculously embarassing for the South African players, people, and rugby fans all over the world.

Final Score: All Blacks 31-28 Springboks



  • This is absolutely disgusting. I have always dreamed to be in the SAME STADIUM as an AB / Bokke match. Imagine messing up an opportunity millions the world over would give an eye tooth for. The commentator was right. He needed more than a broken nose.

    P.S. Cheers for all the videos, RD. I enjoy this site immensely.

    By Anonymous EA Rugger Fan, at May 08, 2008 12:27 am  

  • An absolute disgrace.How no security got near the guy earlier is bewildering!

    i know when i go to twickenham as soon as someone attempts to get on the pitch 20 security guys are afta him or her within seconds.

    By Anonymous yousef1490, at May 08, 2008 12:27 am  

  • pitch invasion, streakers is one thing, but to attack a referee is another. I know this is an older video (2002) but it would be great if no football rugby boundaries ever crossed.

    Sure referee's make bad decisions, and inevitably a team will get a ref which loses the game for them, but that is something people have to except. Players dont get violent with the ref.

    It is appalling to be honest. Was very nice to see both teams giving that supporter a bit of a dap! and the commentators getting their point in aswell!

    By Blogger No.7, at May 08, 2008 12:33 am  

  • i have always wanted to know what happened at this moment. Thanks for sharing it.

    P.s That was a shit tackle, like the commentator said

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 08, 2008 12:36 am  

  • I feel bad for the ref. he looked like if he was in a lot of pain leaving the pitch.

    By Anonymous Frenchy, at May 08, 2008 1:40 am  

  • am pretty sure that the player who broke his nose was a springbok aswell.you can just see a couple quick blows if you look carefully.think it is the number 5.good to see that even though was a springbok fan the player knew what the guy deserved.

    By Anonymous pribsy, at May 08, 2008 1:57 am  

  • fat bastard had absolutely NO leg drive on the hit.

    probably more surprising than the invader was seeing "The Bullet" in a Boks kit as late as 2002!

    By Blogger Cheyanquí, at May 08, 2008 2:11 am  

  • Long Live Piet Van Zyl!!!

    By Anonymous Asterix, at May 08, 2008 3:30 am  

  • Amen!

    By Anonymous Exelcior, at May 08, 2008 3:39 am  

  • who finished reffing the game?

    By Anonymous Chris, at May 08, 2008 4:20 am  

  • Stupid Fucker.

    Apologize for the language, but that's my sentiment seeing that video.

    Bloody fat fuck, should be at home drinking a beer and fondling his gay lover.

    By Blogger Don, at May 08, 2008 6:29 am  

  • thats gold...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 08, 2008 6:54 am  

  • Remember watching this on TV in Australia and I was in utter disbelief.

    How he could be so dumb as to do it at a scrum, where 16 very big, very strong blokes were ready to jump on him and beat the living snot through him, that's the only funny thing about it for me.

    What a fool.

    In response to Chris, English Referee Chris White, who was the 4the official, refereed the rest of the game.

    By Anonymous westdog54, at May 08, 2008 8:09 am  

  • being taken by Mc Caw and Venter is kind of scary, even for that fat looser.
    I always wanted to see that one again, thanks again

    By Anonymous julien, at May 08, 2008 8:36 am  

  • The look on McQ'a face says it all,just shocked. McCaw seems to be trying to get the guy off and one of the Boks gives him a few swift ones.

    What was the fat oaf so riled up about? Was it a bad decision, who won the game eventually.

    By Anonymous Osprey Rich, at May 08, 2008 10:01 am  

  • lol he took a beating from the players. well deserved

    By Anonymous minstrel boy, at May 08, 2008 10:22 am  

  • that's sickening. it's unfortunate to see that kind of blatant disrespect for the game. kudos to Richie and the boys for coming to the refs aide. and whoever broke that fellas nose, more goes out to you..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 08, 2008 10:29 am  

  • "this is where the security of the stadium are so important"- ha! absolutely the worst security i have ever seen. the 2 guys in suits cant even keep him undr control. let alone stop him from getting on the field.

    By Anonymous ed, at May 08, 2008 10:36 am  

  • The pitch invader was a fucken idiot, but how did McHugh manage to dislocate his shoulder in that? Weed.

    By Blogger Matt @ Green and Gold Rugby, at May 08, 2008 11:36 am  

  • I'm not sure I've ever seen anything more satisfying than 30 rugby players coming to the referee's aid :D

    I can only imagine this was before the referee had a radio to talk to his touch judges, or they would've warned him...

    By Blogger Rawling, at May 08, 2008 12:09 pm  

  • Van Zyl evaded 419 security guards on that day! I suppose they weren't expecting something like that, and took a while to react.

    And normally the security in SA is just a bunch of young african guys who've been handed a flourescent bib and told to stand there. They don't really have much clue as to what's going on, no disrespect to them intended.

    Anyway, I remember this well and every south african was shaking their head, all thinking what tools we looked like on that day. Hopefully the world just sees it as it was - one drunk idiot who got carried away.

    Oh, and McHugh was useless, but it doesn't justify Van Zyl's reaction... I suppose ;)

    By Anonymous Sharky, at May 08, 2008 12:20 pm  

  • Give the guy a break, who hasnt done something stupid when being drunk? He was just in the wrong place in the wrong time with the wrong ammount of beer in his belly... lol
    I mean the poor bastard couldn't even aim his tackle properly..
    Anyway, he got what he deserved..

    By Anonymous Eric, at May 08, 2008 1:43 pm  

  • And who hasnt thought about doing that to a ref?

    By Anonymous Just a Fan, at May 08, 2008 2:46 pm  

  • Disgraceful, an embarrassment to Bokke fans everywhere. Thought it was funny when the AB's no. 8 looks up and thinks its an actual Bok player tackling the ref.

    And to Matt, how is it the ref a weed because his shoulder was dislocated ? What a dopey comment.

    By Anonymous Third Centre, at May 08, 2008 2:48 pm  

  • McCaw got a sweet punch in.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 08, 2008 3:03 pm  

  • it looks like McHugh is grabbing his shoulder before they even hit the ground.

    By Blogger Cheyanquí, at May 08, 2008 3:39 pm  

  • ...maar pasop vir 'n boer, wat 'n ref wil MOER...

    he he he he

    was also there that day, the ref was a total twat, far worse than Honiss, Dickheadson and Barnes put together, and the whole stadium quietly wished they could have the courage to do what Piet van Zyl did!


    The only accountability that ever occured in test reffing in the last 10 years.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 08, 2008 3:41 pm  

  • discraceful. makes me angry 2 think about it. refs can be bad sometimes, but it is a game and without them there wud b no game. the idoit who said "Long Live Piet Van Zyl!!!" and the other who said "Give the guy a break, who hasnt done something stupid when being drunk? He was just in the wrong place in the wrong time with the wrong ammount of beer in his belly... lol" ok is it alrite 2 get drunk and assualt them and hospitalise them for no gud reason?

    By Anonymous martin, at May 08, 2008 3:43 pm  

  • "Just a Fan said...
    And who hasnt thought about doing that to a ref?"

    There is a large difference between thinking and doing.....id say about a 20 years worth of gluttony and obesity....

    To be honest i've never thought of assaulting a referee. If im playing and bad decisions are given then you want to say something but saying anything against the referee will inevitably cost your team the game.

    By Blogger No.7, at May 08, 2008 4:06 pm  

  • good to see the boks and kiwis put their differences aside to deal with that idiot.

    Love the look on Richie "don't fuck with me when I'm trying to play rugby" McCaw's face!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 08, 2008 4:16 pm  

  • Would love to see the irb's reaction to a ref in that position fighting back!

    Pretty shocking though. Im a steward myself and although security is much higher now surely they had measures to stop idiots like this. Especially in such a high profile match

    By Anonymous Glenn, at May 08, 2008 4:23 pm  

  • Thanks for finding the time to put this one up, been looking for it for ages, much appreciated :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 08, 2008 6:23 pm  

  • The best is that when you take a closer look, you can see a couple of slpas in the fat bastard's face ... seems to ahve been a bok player ...

    indeed, it would have been brilliant if the ref fought back ... imagine the fat tosser trying to tackle him and the ref giving a a go at the fatty's face ...

    By Anonymous Pedro Fleury, at May 08, 2008 6:31 pm  

  • Has anyone else ever seen a referee attacked on a pitch?....Im sure its pretty rare thank God!

    By Blogger SPG, at May 08, 2008 6:36 pm  

  • Shame on that punk for the rest of his life!.. What a dickhead!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 08, 2008 10:02 pm  

  • "...maar pasop vir 'n boer, wat 'n ref wil MOER...

    he he he he

    was also there that day, the ref was a total twat, far worse than Honiss, Dickheadson and Barnes put together, and the whole stadium quietly wished they could have the courage to do what Piet van Zyl did!


    The only accountability that ever occured in test reffing in the last 10 years."

    your a fucking moron, and any other comment on this about how the guy did something right or how oh, who doesnt think about attacking a ref is a fucking douche bag. What are you, soccer players, attacking refs and shit. And if you ever think of attacking a ref, look at yourself first before you blame the ref, its probably because you can't play for shit that you get so angry when the ref calls you for being dick at rugby.

    By Blogger keithxv, at May 09, 2008 1:50 am  

  • best thing for van zyl is he can always say he took a hit from McCaw, that is one thing you could stand by

    By Anonymous leinster happy, at May 09, 2008 3:37 am  

  • 1st on the scene? Tackles McCaw. As Always.

    By Blogger boomshanka, at May 09, 2008 7:13 am  

  • I'm surprised people remember his name...maybe coz I feel he's not even worthy of being remembered.

    By Blogger Don, at May 09, 2008 7:15 am  

  • Have to say.. just to set the record straight, after examining the video when it first happened some years back, it was actually AJ Venter who hit Van Zyl, not McCaw.

    It's irrelevant now really, but it was definitely Venter. McCaw helped with the wrestling and grabbing, but Venter is the one who got two or three quick flathand slaps in on Van Zyl's nose. Unfortunately on this small vid you can't see it 100% clearly though.
    In some ways it makes it more enjoyable though, the South African player sorting out the South African dickhead.

    By Anonymous Sharky, at May 09, 2008 12:46 pm  

  • RD,

    I wish you guys would have perhaps put on as background music:

    "Barroom Hero" by the Dropkick Murphys

    or better yet,

    "Die Bloubul" by Steve Hofmeyr (even though this is in Durban, something tells me this guy wears his blue hard hat, even in the sack)

    By Blogger Cheyanquí, at May 09, 2008 2:56 pm  

  • don't put on music, it's better to hear the commentary. it's gas when he says "that is atrocious"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 09, 2008 6:41 pm  

  • replying to an earlier post, i dont believe this to be an embarassment to south africans. really it made the boks look good. the ref wasnt calling a great game for them, and yet they were the ones who took a few shots at the idiot who attacked the ref... in their own teams jersey no less.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 09, 2008 6:58 pm  

  • disgusting, he should be watching a football game instead, but... i think it was good the security took him off when they did, others wise he would have been mashed up

    By Anonymous The No.2 Whose Better Than You, at May 09, 2008 7:52 pm  

  • Ah no I agree The SA team acquitted themselves quite beautifully but that a fan would do that is showing disrespect to them as well as the ref

    By Anonymous Third Centre, at May 10, 2008 4:08 pm  

  • Pathetic ,Definitely Pathetic.

    By Anonymous Ben, at May 16, 2008 8:04 pm  

  • to do such a thing is stupid.

    To do it in front of the forwards of both teams is suicidal, you can see richie mccaw hitting him clean on in the face.

    Stupid fat bastard.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at July 17, 2008 5:44 pm  

  • Say what you nz supporters want piet is a legend!!! we need him for the tri nations because the refs are so kak!

    By Anonymous flanker6, at July 25, 2008 4:14 pm  

  • The guy's a prick, no two ways about it!

    I think you hear the ref's shoulder pop out at 11secs, what do you reckon?

    By Anonymous rugbynut21, at August 08, 2008 7:12 pm  

  • i've seen tonnes of people run onto the field at football games (canadian football), but never someone attack a referee.

    and james dalton was not breaking up the 1995 fight, that was a massive brawl, and he contributed to it starting.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 22, 2008 12:58 am  

  • After 9/11, we at the US have taken security so seriously. Wherever large masses of people gather there's a ton of guns. This guy would have been tased as soon as he thought of attacking the ref...

    By Blogger Skiggath, at September 06, 2008 8:40 am  

  • always good to see the players on both teams and the ref banding together against the one thing we should all despise: drunk dickhead fans

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 23, 2008 5:19 am  

  • "he couldnt even get the tackle right" - commentator. i love how that matters! ha ha!

    By Blogger Dave, at November 28, 2008 11:55 am  

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