Distraught Australian flanker Lukhan Tui is set to sit out the rest of the Rugby Championship after an angry confrontation with an abusive fan who appeared to push his young sister.
Tui got involved in a scuffle with the man in the crowd as tensions boiled over after the Wallabies’ shock four-point loss to Argentina on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Reports said the fan shouted “how about playing with some heart” and shoved Tui’s sister.
The men had to be dragged apart with the spectator eventually led away by his throat by another fan.
Woah. Understand frustration from wallabies fans, but no room for this. Ugly at the Gold Coast. Push and shove between fans and players pic.twitter.com/rIduG6ajgj
— Chris Dutton (@BlockaDutton) September 15, 2018
Police moved in but no-one was arrested, with Rugby Australia requesting CCTV footage of the incident to determine whether to investigate further.
It came after a heart-wrenching week for Tui, whose stepfather died suddenly on Wednesday with his teammates wearing black armbands during the match as a mark of respect. Tui told his fellow Wallabies afterwards that he needed time out and coach Michael Cheika on Sunday said it was unlikely he will play in their next two fixtures, away to South Africa and Argentina.
“We’ll see how the week pans out and go from there. I’d say it’s unlikely, based on what we spoke about last night,” Cheika told reporters of Tui playing again in the near future.
The Pumas scored their first win over the Wallabies on Australian soil since 1983, fighting off a spirited second-half comeback to finish 23-19.
It was the Australians’ fifth loss in their past six Tests, with their only recent joy coming from edging the Springboks in Brisbane last week.
“I think it’s very unfortunate, the combination of factors – the game itself, also (Tui’s) situation,” Cheika said of the 21-year-old.
“I don’t know about the fan or what he said or anything. I just don’t like to see that in the game. His stepfather’s just passed away … he needs to just be with his family and be together.”
Wallabies skipper David Pocock also weighed in on the incident.
“As a player you are wanting to put out a performance that makes people proud,” he told rugby.com.au.
“He’s (the fan) obviously not happy. We’ve got to cop that.”
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)