Widnes condemn crowd trouble

Crowd trouble marred the semi-final at Leigh Sports Village

Crowd trouble marred the semi-final at Leigh Sports Village

First published in National Sport News © by

Widnes have strongly condemned the "shameful" behaviour of some supporters after crowd trouble erupted following their Tetley's Challenge Cup semi-final loss to Castleford.

The club have also apologised for the disturbances at Leigh Sports Village and promised to put their 2015 recruitment drive on hold as they investigate.

Fans from the Widnes end invaded the pitch after the Vikings' televised 28-6 defeat and approached rival supporters in a provocative manner.

A banner was unfurled and while Castleford fans appeared not to respond to any goading, violence did break out as police and stewards attempted to restore order.

Many pictures of the trouble have emerged via social media, including the head being removed from one of Castleford's tiger mascots and kicked away.

One female spectator suffered a sprained ankle after being caught up in the chaos, the Rugby Football League confirmed.

A Widnes statement read: "Widnes Vikings, as a club, wishes to apologise to the sport of rugby league, the BBC and the partners of the Challenge Cup, Tetley's, for the disgraceful scenes perpetrated by a minority of their supporters following the end of the game."

Chief executive James Rule said: "After all the hard work that's gone into this season, both on and off the field by various stakeholders of the club, it's sickening to see such shameful scenes perpetrated by a minority of 'supporters'.

"We will now work closely with RFL and police and carry out a full investigation into this afternoon's events.

"If any supporter is able to provide information and names that will assist our investigation then please send that in confidence to tellus@widnesvikings.co.uk.

"It's imperative that we all work together to try and salvage what is left of our reputation.

"The club's recruitment drive for next season has been put on hold until such time that we can establish the full cost to the club for today's actions.

"We will work fully with the RFL and the BBC to identify each and every individual that brought shame to the good name of our club at full time."

The RFL is awaiting reports from all relevant parties before deciding on its course of action but the governing body's chief executive Nigel Wood has also condemned the perpetrators.

Wood said: "The sport has every right to be disappointed with the behaviour of a minority of Widnes fans. We will work with the clubs to identify any supporters who encroached onto the pitch. There is no place for such behaviour in rugby league.

"True rugby league supporters are renowned for their good nature at all occasions such as this and we will not hesitate to use whatever measures are available to us to protect these precious values."

The match had attracted a sell-out 12,005 crowd and had mostly been played in a good atmosphere, despite appalling weather.

A number of Castleford players were still on the field when the invasion occurred and were seen attempting to usher supporters back in the direction of the stands.

Tigers coach Daryl Powell said: "We were just trying to get them off the field. It was ridiculous, to be honest. I don't know what they were trying to prove.

"But the boys are all right. There were no real incidents."

Greater Manchester Police were contacted on Sunday evening but unable to confirm whether any arrests had been made.

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