Hull's 'shame' as police arrest 17

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The Independent Online

The game's leading figures were last night queueing up to condemn the crowd trouble which followed Leeds Rhinos' 28-22 victory over Hull in the Challenge Cup semi-final at the McAlpine Stadium yesterday. The chief executive of the Rugby Football League, Neil Tunnicliffe said: "It is a tragedy that a marvellous match was overshadowed by the mindless actions of a minority group of people.

"Such incidents are so rare in rugby league that we must condemn outright the behaviour of the Hull fans who invaded the field at the end of the game while at the same time applauding the Leeds fans for withstanding severe provocation.

"Rugby Football League by-law 58a states that every club is responsible for the action of its spectators and we shall be conducting a full, thorough and far-reaching investigation in conjunction with the ground safety authorities, the police and both clubs.

"The issue will then go before the board of directors at the earliest opportunity and will be addressed with the utmost seriousness."

The Rugby Football League chairman Rodney Walker, who was at the game, said that "the sternest" action would be taken against Hull fans involved in the trouble.

"Scenes like this sicken me to the pit of my stomach," he said. "It is a great shame because the game was played in a tremendous spirit and there was no problem on the pitch between the players, then this sort of thing happens.

"I had hoped that I would never ever see this on a rugby league pitch. Make no mistake, we will deal with this with all the authority and power at our disposal.

"You only have to look around at the genuine rugby league supporters, who are utterly disgusted with what we have seen. For their sake, we have to deal with this."

The Hull chairwoman, Kath Hetherington, said she was outraged by the behaviour of some of her team's followers. She said: "It makes me feel like packing it in but if I did that, they've won. My message to them is go away and don't come again."

The Leeds captain Iestyn Harris, who kicked six goals from six attempts, admitted that the after-match scenes had taken some of the gloss off his team's win. "It was silly because rugby league is a family game and there is never any trouble. Hopefully, it's a one-off incident," he said.

West Yorkshire police confirmed that 17 arrests had been made, both inside and outside the ground. Most of them were Hull fans in relation to minor public disorder offences as the police dealt with further problems an hour after the game.

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