Challenge Cup pitch invasion: get culprits out of the game, says Paul Cullen
Boots guest slams Widnes fans who stormed Leigh Sports Village
Last Updated: 14/08/14 9:39am
Paul Cullen told Boots 'n' All that the Widnes Vikings fans who stormed the pitch after their Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Castleford must 'never be allowed in any stadium ever again'.
The former Vikings' Director of Rugby slammed the club's supporters who invaded the pitch after full-time at Leigh Sports Village and approached the Tigers fans.
Violence occurred as police and stewards attempted to restore order and some of the scenes were captured on social media, including the head of one of the Tigers’ mascots being removed and and kicked away.
Cullen, who also coached the Super League club for a year in 2009, told Boots 'n' All: "I think it’s absolutely outrageous that anyone would enter that playing arena.
We should come down heavily with a tonne of bricks on those that are responsible.
"I genuinely feel there’s a very good reason there’s a safety wall around a ground, and certainly at a rugby league pitch – it’s to separate those that can do it from those that can’t.
"You should stay behind the fence whether in celebration or whether in defeat.
"I honestly don’t think you should be on the field to celebrate your team’s win, because you’ve got to earn the right to get on the field and you certainly shouldn’t be on the field when your team has lost.
"It’s absolutely outrageous. We’ve just about got away without a major catastrophe. We’re not quite there, but we should come down heavily with a tonne of bricks on those that are responsible and Widnes will play a part in that I’m sure."
After the incident, Widnes chief executive James Rule said: "It's sickening to see such shameful scenes perpetrated by a minority of 'supporters'," and Cullen believes the Vikings will take strong action against the guilty persons.
"We as a game, and the clubs involved individually, have to take corporate responsibility," he added.
"I’m sure Widnes, or any other club in this situation – and I’m sure it isn’t just the Widnes Vikings throughout the whole of the season – won’t wash their hands of this.
"They’ll fight tooth and nail to find out who they were on the field and make sure they’re never allowed in any stadium ever again – I think it’s that serious."
"The crying shame in all of this is how hard the Widnes Vikings work in the community. If there’s five or six thousand in that stadium following the Widnes Vikings, 100 of them have let the club down. We should not let that incident tar the Widnes Vikings club.
"They’ll work exceptionally hard to identify the culprits and hopefully get them out the game – we don’t want them in the stadium, let alone on the pitch.
"When you’re a player and you’re so charged, and the adrenalin is running so high, it doesn’t take much to be pushed over the edge.
"It just takes one wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time, to say or do the wrong thing, and we could be in serious trouble."