Rumble down at Mumbles

Rugby Union
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The Independent Online
It sounds like a bad day at San Siro or the Aztec stadium: controversial sendings-off, a mass punch-up featuring an unholy mixture of players and supporters and a decisive intervention by police wearing riot gear. But this was no outbreak of Latin soccer violence. This happened at, er, Mumbles RFC, the leaders of the Heineken League Division Seven, no less.

Mind you, it was a big old game. Mumbles were hosting second-placed Cwmllynfell in a west Wales derby, and with so much at stake that you could cut the atmosphere with a lump hammer. When the fur began to fly during the second half, members of the South Wales constabulary might have felt more at home in Sao Paulo or Bogota, despite the lack of humidity down there on the Gower coast.

Four players, three of them from the visiting side, were invited by the referee, Hugh Banfield, to make an early departure from the arena and one of them, the Cwmllynfell full-back, Christian Walsh, collected his marching orders for participating in the "Mumbles Rumble" that had broken out among the 500 spectators.

Walsh later insisted that he had been attempting to stop the violence but that only happened when a posse of very serious-looking police officers arrived. "Because of the nature of the call we received, we gave the incident high-profile policing," a force spokesman said. "The trouble soon died down and we did not have to make any arrests."

Banfield, the official at the centre of the recent Welsh referees' pay strike, is now compiling his match report. "I'll be mentioning what happened both on and off the field," he promised yesterday. It should make fascinating reading.

Alan Watkins, page 24

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