The NRL saw multiple people invade pitches over the last round of footy, including a shirtless woman and a protestor carrying a flare.
The incidents have raised concerns regarding ground’s security, and the response to such incidents.
Titans fan Javon Johnson hopped the fence in the 72nd minute of the clash against the Parramatta Eels, running into the middle of the field with her top off.
Parramatta halfback Mitchell Moses looked on stunned as Johnson was tackled by a security guard, being lifted into the air before being driven into the turf.
She was then escorted off the field by two security guards.
In an interview shortly after, Johnson remarked: “I know exactly what I did. It’s been a bucket list thing and when your friends say, ‘I dare you to do it’, you don’t actually think you’re going to do it. It was such a surreal, out-of-body experience,”
“It’s the adrenaline of the crowd. You just hear this big roar, and I was like, ‘I need to take off my top now’. I was so close to doing my bra, but I was like, ‘No … that’s a bit far’.”
Whilst many commentators deemed that the tackle was too extreme, Johnson appears to have taken it in her stride.
“I used to play AFL and rugby and I have three brothers, so getting tackled was not a problem,” she noted.
“The tackle was honestly fine, it was more how much air I got. I guess it just looks so much worse…I think it’s fair play. I definitely took what I deserved. He should keep his job.” she explained.
The Titans have since launched a review into the incident, with their Chairman, Dennis Watts calling the response ‘heavy handed’.
The next night saw another incident regarding pitch invaders at the Cronulla Sharks and Wests Tigers game.
The political protestor, wearing a shirt bearing the logo of climate action group ‘Fireproof Australia’ and carrying a flare, invaded the pitch midway through the second half.
The man was tackled by security guards and dragged off the field, with the game momentarily stopped as the billowing red smoke from the flare cleared away.
Three other spectators entered the field as security guards attempted to extinguish the flare.
One spectator even tackled a security guard, seemingly trying to mimic the tackle of Ms Johnson.
The initial protestor was arrested by police after the incident.
He pleaded guilty to the charges of entering enclosed land without a lawful excuse and possessing a bright light distress signal in a public place at Sutherland Local Court.
The Magistrate sentenced him to three months in jail (https://www.news.com.au/sport/nrl/nrl-to-take-action-against-pitch-invaders-after-wild-weekend/news-story/fd291ca83fd8a67a4ec781f823e1b9e0).
- Pitch Invasion Penalties for Streaking in New South Wales (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/blog/can-a-streaker-be-considered-a-sex-offender-under-the-law-in-nsw/)
Major sporting venues in NSW will impose heavy fines for ‘pitch invasion’ along with bans from entering the venue for a specified period of time.
The majority of venues are covered by specific legislation, which impose specified offences.
For example, the Sporting Venues (Invasions) Act 2003 (NSW), covers the following stadiums:
- Central Coast Stadium at Dane Drive, Gosford,
- Wollongong Stadium at Harbour Street, Wollongong (‘WIN Stadium’),
- Newcastle Stadium at Turton Road, Broadmeadow (‘McDonald Jones Stadium’),
- Parramatta Stadium at O’Connell Street, Parramatta (‘CommBank Stadium’).
- Sydney Cricket Ground at Driver Avenue, Moore Park, and
- Sydney Football Stadium at Driver Avenue, Moore Park (https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/whole/html/inforce/current/sl-2016-0528#sec.4).
What are the penalties for streaking or pitch invasion at a stadium in NSW? If dealt with by a court, the maximum penalty that applies is $5,500. According to section 4 (https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/whole/html/inforce/current/act-2003-044#sec.4) Sporting Venues (Invasions) Act 2003 (NSW) this applies if you enter or remain on the playing field of a designated sporting venue during a match held with the authorisation of the venue director, unless you are either one of the following:
- A participant in the match,
- Engaged in the control or management of the match,
- An authorised officer,
- A member of a class of person who have been authorised by the venue director or an authorised officer to enter the playing field.
Will I get banned from the venue for pitch invasion offences? You will be banned for 12 months from entering the venue. The ban will start from when you were removed from the venue, according to section 5 Sporting Venues (Invasions) Act 2003 (NSW).
Can I get a life ban for pitch invasion? You can be banned from life from entering a sporting venue if you were removed from the venue for pitch invasion, having previously been banned for the same thing. This applies whether or not the previous ban is still in place.
You will be required to state, to an authorised officer, your full name and residential address (and even have a photo taken of you by an authorised officer) if the authorised officer at a sporting venue suspects on reasonable grounds that you’ve committed the offence of pitch invasion at the venue. Failure to comply attracts penalties of up to $2,200, according to section 10.
Other penalties may be applicable under ‘trespassing’ legislation.
In NSW, it is an section 4 (https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/whole/html/inforce/current/act-1901-033#sec.4) of the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901 (NSW).
This is punishable by a fine of $550, or $1,100 in the case of a prescribed premises.
A prescribed premises means land occupied or used in connection with a school, a child-care service, a hospital, or a nursing home.
‘Inclosed lands’ has quite a broad definition under the Act, and means any land, either public or private, inclosed or surrounded by any fence, wall, or similar structure by which its boundaries may be known or recognised.
This thus encompasses a sporting field, which is restricted from spectators by fences or gates.
Click here for more on assault charges and law in NSW (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/blog/assault-charges-penalties-defences-complete-guide/).
By Poppy Morandin.
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