Samoan and Tongan fans brawl ahead of World Cup clash

Tensions are high ahead of the clash between Tonga and Samoa in Hamilton on Saturday.
Tensions are high ahead of the clash between Tonga and Samoa in Hamilton on Saturday.

A man has been charged with assault with a blunt instrument after a street brawl that erupted between Samoan and Tongan fans this week in the lead-up to a crucial Rugby League World Cup game.

Tensions are high ahead of the clash in Hamilton on Saturday, where Mate Ma'a Tonga and Toa Samoa will compete for a place in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Tongan and Samoan flags have been popping up around South Auckland and celebrations have been held late into the night, particularly in Otahuhu, with police receiving multiple complaints about loud music and continuous honking.

However, in some cases the jubilation has turned to violence including several incidents caught on camera.

One video shot on Tuesday showed dozens of Samoan and Tongan supporters squaring off in a street brawl on Great South Rd in Otahuhu.

Later that night four Tongan supporters were arrested around 11pm after what police called a "disorder incident".

One of those arrested, a 21-year-old man, was charged with assault with a blunt instrument and appeared in the Manukau District Court today, a police spokesman said.

A 20-year-old was arrested and given a pre-charge warning for disorder, he said. An 18-year-old was arrested in relation to an assault but no charges had been laid.

The fourth person was arrested on an "unrelated matter".

Since the arrests more violence has erupted between the two groups. Footage filmed yesterday showed a man in a car apparently being attacked by a group holding Samoan flags.

Tongan wing and former Warrior Manu Vatuvei has called for fans to remain calm, while Samoan-Kiwi boxer David Tua has urged the two groups to remember that "we are all family".

Ahead of Saturday's game police have again called for calm.

Superintendent Sandra Manderson, national commander of major sporting events, said it was great to see the enthusiasm shown by fans but some had taken it too far.

"We want everyone to have a good time, but we won't tolerate people behaving in a way that spoils it for others," she said.


This article originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald and has been reproduced with permission

Topics:  rugby league samoa sport tonga world cup

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