Railing collapse at Leichhardt Oval mars schoolboy rugby clash

Questions have been raised about the safety of Sydney’s Leichhardt Oval after a railing collapsed during a rugby match on Saturday,causing a crowd of spectators to fall onto the concrete below.

NSW Ambulance said no one was taken to hospital during the game between Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview and St Joseph’s College,where an estimated crowd of around 15,000 was in attendance.

Dozens of people have fallen after a fence collapsed at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney.

A paramedic crew had been assigned to the oval from 11.30am to 5.30pm to watch over the annual rugby fixture between the private schools.

A NSW Ambulance spokesman said paramedics had noted an incident at about 5pm,but no one was transported to hospital.

Video of the incident shows a group of men jumping up and down after their team scored,before the railing they were leaning on collapsed and they tumbled about a metre-and-a-half to the ground. The men did not appear to be seriously injured.

A second video showed other spectators laughing at the incident.

In an online page for the event,Riverview had written:“With a large crowd anticipated,the college is doing what it reasonably can to ensure an enjoyable game environment and the safety of spectators and players.”

“The college has worked with Police Local Area Command and venue security personnel whose role is to manage public entry and behaviour at the oval,” the school wrote.

In May,Inner West Council called on the state government to fund urgent works for the oval,saying if upgrades were not completed “it won’t be tenable for games to be played there at all”.

However,the government has reneged on an apparent handshake agreement to perform upgrades at Leichhardt Oval and other suburban stadiums,instead diverting the money to flood reconstruction.

Peter V’landys,chair of the Australian Rugby League Commission,told the Heraldit was “appalling that they’re using human tragedy of the floods to renege on an agreement”.

“When you consider the billions of dollars they spent in the recent budget,the amount they need to honour our agreement is insignificant,” he said.

The railing collapse comes after a turbulent week for Leichhardt Oval,with police called last Sunday when rocks and flares were thrown following an Australia Cup soccer match.

A Sydney FC spokeswoman said those involved in the fight did not watch the game and were not wearing any club colours at the time.

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Georgina Mitchell is a court reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Jamie Berry is a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald

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