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Pitch invasion

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Title: Pitch invasion  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: 2009 Upton Park riot, Estadio Nacional disaster, 1966 FA Cup Final, Bourda, Millwall Bushwackers
Collection: Association Football Culture, Association Football Terminology, Gaelic Games Culture
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Pitch invasion

Stoke City F.C. fans invade the pitch at the Britannia Stadium to celebrate promotion to the Premier League in 2008.

A pitch invasion, known as rushing the field or storming the field in the United States, occurs when an individual or crowd of people who are watching a sports game run onto the playing area to celebrate or protest about an incident. Pitch invasions may involve individual people or capacity crowds.


  • American football 1
    • Southeastern Conference penalties 1.1
    • Other conference penalties 1.2
  • Association football 2
  • Australian rules football 3
  • Baseball 4
    • Famous incidents 4.1
    • Morganna, the Kissing Bandit 4.2
  • Basketball 5
  • Cricket 6
  • Gaelic football and hurling 7
  • International rules football 8
  • Rugby league 9
  • Rugby union 10
    • Infamous pitch invasions 10.1
  • Arena sports 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

American football

Ecstatic Washington Huskies college football fans storm the field in celebration after defeating the heavily-favored No. 3 USC Trojans in an upset.
Houston Cougars football fans rushing the field after defeating rival Texas Tech in 2009
Oregon State football fans prepare to rush the field in a historic upset of #3 USC in 2006

This is especially common in college football and high school football when a team pulls off a major upset, defeats a major rival, ends a long losing streak or notches a history-making win. Many schools employ riot police to physically prevent fans from rushing the field, a controversy in and of itself. However, with the widespread advent of artificial turf such as FieldTurf, some schools are becoming more lax about students invading the pitch. In the last few years, goal posts are also taken down within moments of the end of the game as a cautionary measure to prevent fans from climbing atop them to cause damage to the standard holding them up, damage to television camera equipment on the posts, and spectator injury. In the National Football League, storming the field usually results in lifetime revocation of season tickets from the holder of them, even if given or sold to another person.

  • Chicago College All-Star Game (23 July 1976): With 1:22 remaining in the third quarter, the Pittsburgh Steelers led the College All-Stars 24–0 when a torrential rainstorm hit the field which made play impossible. After officials called for a delay, drunk and unruly fans invaded the field and tore down the goalposts. Officials, security, and police attempted to clear the field, but twelve minutes later, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and the sponsoring Chicago Tribune announced that the game had been called, which was greeted with jeers, and numerous brawls broke out on the flooded field before order was finally restored.[1]
  • Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins (7 September 1980; NFL): The Bills broke a 20-game losing streak against their division rival Dolphins on this day, prompting the 79,000 fans in attendance at Rich Stadium to storm the field and tear down the stadium's goal posts.[2]
  • University of California, Berkeley vs. Stanford University (20 November 1982; Pacific-10 football): In the final seconds of the 1982 Big Game against the University of California, Berkeley (Cal), Stanford Band members and Stanford players ran out onto the field, thinking the game was over. Cal players lateralled the kickoff back and forth, with Cal's Kevin Moen dodging through the band for a winning touchdown, which he ended by running over trombone player Gary Tyrrell in the end zone. "The Play" is celebrated by Cal fans and inspires the ire of many Stanford fans. To this day, it remains one of the most famous plays in American football history. (The game does not end until the last play ends, even if the game clock runs out of time while the last play is still in progress. A penalty was called as a result of "The Play", but it was only because the spectators and band members had crowded onto the field while the game was in progress.)
  • LSU vs. Kentucky (9 November 2002; SEC football): Kentucky looked as if they would pull off a home upset of the Tigers when they held a 30–27 lead with two seconds left and LSU with the ball at their own 26-yard line. As quarterback Marcus Randall heaved a Hail Mary pass downfield, fans rushed onto the edges of the field ready to celebrate Kentucky's victory. However, the pass was deflected off two Wildcat defenders and into the hands of LSU wide receiver Devery Henderson, who was able to run into the end zone to cap a 33–30 win for LSU and leaving the fans on the field stunned at the turn of events. The play would come to be known as the Bluegrass Miracle. Five years later at the same stadium, Wildcats fans invaded the field after avenging the loss with a win, and the school was fined $50,000 for a third violation of the conference's policy prohibiting pitch invasions (see above).
  • 2 November 2008 – Texas Tech vs. Texas – Texas Tech fans invaded the Jones AT&T Stadium turf three times during the final moments of the game. The first happened after Michael Crabtree caught a touchdown pass from Graham Harrell with one second to go: overjoyed fans, thinking the game was over and the Red Raiders had upset #1-ranked Texas, spilled out onto the field, doing so again after the replay official announced that Crabtree had indeed stayed inbounds the moment before crossing the goal line. Tech was assessed two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for this, forcing them to kick off from the 7-and-a-half yard line. After the ball was recovered by Tech, the game ended and the fans invaded the field one final time without penalty.
  • 30 November 2013 - Auburn vs. Alabama - Auburn University faced off against their arch-rivals, the University of Alabama in their annual rivalry game, popularly known as the Iron Bowl. Alabama entered the season ranked #1 after winning two consecutive BCS National Championships. Auburn had begun the season unranked, but had moved up to #4 in the rankings, marking the second time both teams were ranked in the Top 5 of the BCS rankings. The winner of the game would earn the right to play in the SEC Championship Game. With one second left on the clock and the score tied, Alabama elected to attempt a 57 yard field goal. The kick was short and Auburn defender Chris Davis fielded it 9 yards deep in his own end zone. He returned the kick all the way to the Alabama end zone, scoring the game-winning touchdown, and in spite of the SEC's penalties for rushing the field, thousands of Auburn fans (mainly students) flooded the field in delight at earning a spot in the SEC Championship game, as well as ending arch-rival Alabama's national title hopes.

Southeastern Conference penalties

Section 10.5 of the Southeastern Conference By-Laws has a progressive fine policy in major sports: $5,000 for the first offence, $25,000 for the second offence, and $50,000 for third and subsequent offences within a three-year period of the last pitch invasion.

After three years without a pitch invasion, a school will have the pitch invasion rule reset to one, meaning that the next pitch invasion will be declared a second violation, and the school will be fined $25,000.

The Kentucky Wildcats have been hit with "the triple" for three football pitch invasions within eleven months:

  • On 4 November 2006, the team was fined $5,000 for a pitch invasion after a football win against Georgia.
  • On 15 September 2007, the team was fined $25,000 for a pitch invasion after a football non-conference win against archrival Louisville.
  • On 13 October 2007, the team was fined $50,000 for a pitch invasion after a triple overtime football win against top-ranked LSU.[3]

Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Missouri have been fined $25,000 for second offence violations, but most SEC schools have been fined $5,000. Missouri's fine is notable in that their second violation occurred after only three years as a member of the SEC: both came when supporters flooded Faurot Field after the team clinched a trip to the SEC Championship Game, in 2013 and 2014. Note that in association football, Kentucky and South Carolina will have the rule in effect for women's games, but because the men's game is held under the auspices of Conference USA, there is no pitch invasion fine in that sport.

Other conference penalties

Other conferences have similar by-laws; in some conferences, the pitch invasion rule is reset to zero after five years without a pitch invasion, and the fine is doubled in the event that a player or official is injured as a result of the pitch invasion.

However, more recently, some conferences have begun cracking down on pitch invasions in all sports.

Association football

Pitch invasions are not uncommon but not as frequent nowadays in top level football, but historically it was common for the supporters of the winning team in a major match, such as a Cup Final, to flood onto the pitch after the final whistle. For example, in Kenneth Wolstenholme's famous "Some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over – it is now!" comment on the BBC's television coverage of the 1966 World Cup Final, "they" were fans who had encroached onto the pitch before the end of extra time.

Pitch invasions are less common in the modern football era than in the 1970s and 1980s. Somewhat surprisingly, it was during that period that fans were barricaded in the stands by fences; after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, this form of crowd control was abandoned, yet pitch invasions became rarer. The partial demise of pitch invasions may partly be due to the fact that in 1991 pitch invasions were criminalised in the UK under the Football Offences Act.[4] However, they do still occur, especially in the lower divisions where there is less policing and security.

Famous pitch invasions include:

  • Celtic v Rangers (1909) Scottish Cup Final. At the end of the drawn replay, the crowd invaded the pitch to protest at the lack of a result and at the prospect of having to pay to watch a third game. The SFA withheld the Cup.
  • Everton v Sheffield Wednesday (1966) FA Cup final. Sheffield Wednesday had scored two goals while Everton had a goal disqualified as offside before Everton scored two goals in the second half to equalise. Shortly after the equalising goal a lone Everton fan, Eddie Canavagh, invaded the pitch, eluding one police officer before being tackled and escorted off the pitch by a second officer. Everton went on to win the game 3-2.
  • Celtic v Inter Milan (1967) European Cup. As the final whistle blew, fans of Celtic flooded the pitch in jubilation as Celtic became the first British team to lift the European Cup.
  • Hereford v Newcastle (1972) FA Cup. Non-league Hereford beat top-flight Newcastle 2–1 after extra time. There were pitch invasions after both Hereford goals and one at the end of the match.
  • Manchester United v Manchester City (1974) Old First Dvision. There were pitch invasions few minutes after Denis Law scored the only goal for the visiting team, in match that would have given United hope of staying in old First Division had they won as it was the second to last game of the season. Although United is fate were not sealed with that goal, the pitch invasion confirmed United's fate as the match was abandoned 8 minutes before playing time had expired, along with negative results elsewhere.
  • England v Scotland (1977) Home International, Wembley. Scotland won 2–1. Scotland supporters invaded the pitch and destroyed one of the goals. The scenes were broadcast live on UK TV, and this is identified as one of the key moments when football hooliganism caught the interest of politicians.
  • Celtic v Rangers (10 May 1980). Celtic beat Rangers 1–0 during extra time and rioting ensued on the pitch at full-time. Mounted police had to break up the battling fans; this also led to the banning of alcohol from Scottish football grounds.
  • Derby v Fulham (1983) Football League. This match was controversially never concluded after Derby fans invaded the pitch. Fulham required a win to be promoted back into the top flight of English football but despite their protests the match was never replayed and the result, a 1–0 defeat, stood.
  • Everton v Wimbledon (7 May 1994). In an attempt to secure 40 consecutive years of top-flight football, Everton, who had been at the foot of the table for much of a dreadful season, needed to beat the in-form Wimbledon, who had not lost for 10 games in a row. The club's chairman had offered a trip to Las Vegas if they should make it 11. Despite one stand being closed due to construction the atmosphere was known as one of the greatest ever within Goodison Park. Although they went 2–0 down in the first 20 minutes, Everton managed a remarkable comeback to win the game 3–2 and secure survival. A mass pitch invasion ensued and many images of the emotional day were screened on the BBC's Grandstand.
  • Carlisle United v Plymouth Argyle (8 May 1999). Having been bottom of the table for much of the season, Carlisle United needed a win to stand any chance of possible survival and retain their Football League status. With the score at 1-1 against Plymouth in injury time, on-loan goalkeeper Jimmy Glass came forward from his own half into the opposition box for the subsequent Carlisle corner kick. The ball met Glass on a rebound shot and he kicked into the net to score, winning the match and condemning Scarborough to relegation in the process. A mass pitch invasion took place before the match ended.
  • FC Schalke 04 v SpVgg Unterhaching (19 May 2001). Before the last round of matches of the Bundesliga 2000–01 season, Bayern Munich lead Schalke 04 by three points, but with an inferior goal difference. Schalke managed to defeat Unterhaching, 5–3. Shortly before this match ended, Bayern gave up a 90th-minute goal against Hamburg. Most Schalke supporters believed their team had won their first championship since 1958. The pitch had thus been stormed in celebration although the match in Hamburg was not concluded yet. In Hamburg, an indirect free kick was awarded for Bayern and Patrik Andersson eventually scored the decisive equaliser. In Schalke, the atmosphere immediately turned from joy and celebration to shock, disbelief and mourning.
  • Watford v Luton Town (10 September) 2002 Football League Cup. 10 minutes before the game kicked off, Luton fans invaded the pitch, this provoked the Watford fans to do the same, resulting was a mass brawl on the pitch between the two sets of supporters and the game was delayed for 25 minutes before riot police regained order.[5]
  • Aston Villa v Manchester United (6 January 2002) FA Cup. Manchester United were 2–0 down with 15 minutes left of play, however Manchester United scored three times in 5 minutes and their third goal caused many Manchester United fans to invade the pitch in celebration.
  • QPR v Crewe (26 April 2003) Football League Division 2 – QPR needed to win this game to pip Crewe of automatic promotion from Division 2. During the game there was a nasty coin throwing incident, and a QPR fan went onto the pitch to remonstrate with the referee. The game finished 0–0, meaning Crewe were promoted, and hundreds of QPR fans invaded the pitch.[6]
  • West Brom v Portsmouth (15 May 2005) FA Premier League. West Brom defeated Portsmouth 2–0; combined with other results, this completed one of the most amazing escapes from relegation in English football history. West Brom became the first team since the advent of the modern Premiership in 1992–93 to escape relegation after being bottom of the table at Christmas. Once all results came in and West Brom were secure, thousands of Baggies fans at The Hawthorns ecstatically ran onto the pitch. Many Portsmouth fans joined the celebrations, as one of the teams relegated at West Brom's expense were their arch-rivals Southampton.
  • Reading v Derby County (1 April 2006) Football League Championship. Reading defeated Derby County 5–0 to secure the Football League Championship title. In the previous game Reading drew 1–1 with Leicester City at the Walkers Stadium to secure promotion to the FA Premier League for their first season in the top flight during their 135-year history. At the end of the game Reading fans spilled onto the pitch to celebrate these two achievements.
  • Wigan v Portsmouth (29 April 2006) FA Premier League. Portsmouth defeated Wigan 2-1 to ensure Portsmouth's survival in the FA Premier League. Nicknamed "the Great Escape" by Portsmouth fans, this win marked the conclusion to an astonishing series of matches under their manager Harry Redknapp who had rejoined the club earlier in the year, after being sacked by fierce rivals Southampton, when Portsmouth were in a deep relegation crisis. It heralded the arrival of Portsmouth's new owner, Sacha Gaydamak, who bankrolled the signings made by Harry Redknapp during the January transfer window. Portsmouth fans invaded the pitch at the DW Stadium in jubilation and relief at staying up. This also marked the beginning of the saga leading to Portsmouth's eventual relegation and bankruptcy.
  • West Ham United F.C. v Millwall F.C. (25 August 2009) Football League Cup. After West Ham equalised, fans invaded the pitch but did not cause a major disturbance. After West Ham scored twice more, hundreds of their fans invaded the pitch and riot police were hastily deployed. It took over six minutes for the police to clear the pitch. The minister for sport, Gerry Sutcliffe, was quoted as saying the violence between West Ham and Millwall was "a disgrace to football" and the pitch invasions were widely condemned by the FA and the players.[7]
  • FK Sarajevo v NK Široki Brijeg (21 April 2010) Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Fans of Sarajevo invaded the pitch after the game ended with 1–1 to show their dissatisfaction over the result but also to protest because no one was still arrested for the killing of Vedran Puljić, a Sarajevo fan, on their away match in Široki Brijeg earlier in the session (4 October 2011).[8]
  • [9]
  • Bray Wanderers v Shamrock Rovers (29 October 2010) League of Ireland Premier Division. Shamrock Rovers won their first league title since 1994 and fans invaded the pitch in celebration.
  • Southampton v Coventry City FC (28 April 2012) Football League Championship. Southampton fans invaded the pitch following back to back promotions to the Premiership following an absence of seven years in which the club entered administration.
  • Manchester City v Queens Park Rangers (13 May 2012) Premier League. Manchester City fans invaded the pitch at the Etihad Stadium after winning the Premier League title In dramatic circumstances, coming back from 2-1 down against QPR in stoppage time. This was the first time the club had won a top-flight championship since 1968 and their first ever Premier League title.
  • Fortuna Düsseldorf v Hertha BSC (15 May 2012) Bundesliga relegation play-off. During extra time, Fortuna fans invaded the pitch at Esprit Arena, causing a twenty-minute interruption. Police and security staff had to clear the pitch before the remaining 90 seconds could be played.[10]
  • Everton vs AEK Athens (9 August 2012) Pre-Season Friendly. Everton icon, Tony Hibbert, who had not scored a goal for Everton in 11 years at the club, had his testimonial at Goodison Park. Everton fans had come up with the slogan "If Hibbert scores, we riot", stating that if Hibbert ever scored a goal at Goodison Park, then they would riot on the pitch. In the second half of a pre-season friendly in 2012, Hibbert scored a free kick and many supporters ran on the pitch singing "Oh Tony Hibbert, he scores when he wants." Hibbert, after the match, described his goal and the celebrations as "a fairytale."
  • Melbourne Heart vs Melbourne Victory (22 December 2012) A-League. Melbourne Victory fans invaded the pitch at AAMI Park after winning the Melbourne derby fixture 2-1 in dramatic circumstances against their bitter city arch-rivals Melbourne Heart thanks to Archie Thompson's match winning goal three minutes into stoppage time.
  • Wigan Cosmos v AFC Leigh Centurions (March 2013) South Lancashire Counties League. About 2-300 Newcastle United fans invaded the pitch and caused the amateur game in Wigan to be abandoned before their own Premier League fixture against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium. During the 40 minute rampage, another South Lancashire Counties League game was disrupted and hundreds of pounds worth of damage was caused by Newcastle fans.[11]
  • Malmö FF (28 October 2013) Allsvenskan. In the 29th round, Malmö secured the league title with a five-point lead after getting a 2-0 win in Borås; with 20 seconds left of the game, referee Jonas Eriksson awarded a free kick to Malmö - fans of the future champions who were celebrating behind the sidelines thought that Eriksson had blown the whistle for full-time, and stormed the pitch followed by police rushing in to protect the players. TV cameras showed Malmö player Guillermo Molins telling the fans to get off the pitch, and the players and fans then waited for the police to leave the pitch. Two minutes after the first pitch invasion, Jonas Eriksson restarted the game and blew for full-time only seconds later, again with fans invading the pitch in celebration and police keeping the fans on Malmö's half.[12]
  • FC Zenit Saint Petersburg vs FC Dynamo Moscow (11 May 2014) Russian Premier League.
  • Manchester City v West Ham United (11 May 2014) Premier League. Manchester City fans invaded the pitch at the Etihad Stadium after winning the Premier League title In dramatic circumstances, having been in a close race throughout the campaign only needing one point to win as they were significantly ahead of contenders Liverpool (who won their match that day 2-1 against Newcastle) in goal difference if the two teams had tied in points. This was the second time the club had won a Premier League title in three campaigns.
  • 2014 FIFA World Cup Final (13 July 2014). The Russian comedian Vitaly Zdorovetskiy ran across the field in the second half of the final between Germany and Argentina.[1]

Australian rules football

After-game kick-to-kick tradition at the Melbourne Cricket Ground is a rare sight. This follows an AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and Port Adelaide Power; 16000 fans were let onto the turf.
This pitch invasion occurred in 2008 when Lance "Buddy" Franklin booted his 100th goal in the final round of the regular AFL season.

Pitch invasions, rarely hostile or violent, have long been a tradition of Australian rules football. At the end of an Australian rules match, it is traditional for supporters to run onto the field to celebrate the game and play games of kick-to-kick with their families. Supporters were once also able to do this during the half-time break. In recent years, this was subject to stricter controls, and then finally banned altogether, in the elite Australian Football League However it is legal at Simonds Stadium and other smaller grounds.

It is also a tradition for the crowd to engage in a mid-match pitch invasion when a player reaches a landmark achievement, typically a 100th goal in a season, a 1000th career goal, or (in the case of Tony Lockett's 1300th career goal in 1999), breaking the all-time goal-kicking record. The AFL has not yet succeeded in preventing these mid-match invasions, but players are duly protected by bodyguards and stadium security while supporters flood onto the field.

There have been a few occasions of hostile pitch invasions; the most infamous of these occurred in the 1967 Tasmanian State Premiership Final, when hundreds of Wynyard fans invaded the field and tore down the goalposts to prevent North Hobart full forward David Collins from kicking a goal after the final siren. The Tasmanian Football League declared the match a no result and withheld the 1967 State Premiership.

Another hostile pitch invasion occurred in an AFL night game between St Kilda and Essendon in 1996, when the floodlights at Waverley Park lost power and fans rioted in the darkness and, coincidentally, also took down the goalposts. (The game was later replayed three days later.)

Some unusual pitch invasions have become part of football folklore, such as the famous incident of the pig named "Plugger" being let loose on the ground in round 18, 1993.[13] Similar incidents of animals invading the pitch have also occurred in recent years, including a feral cat which was arrested at AAMI Stadium, as well as occasional dogs. The outlawed practice of "streaking" (running naked onto the ground) occurred in some big matches, most famously the performance of Helen d'Amico in the 1982 VFL Grand Final.


Pitch Invasion at Blue Jays baseball game

In modern baseball, a pitch invasion is typically undertaken by one or a small number of attention seeking fans or pranksters, rather than a large number of people. Almost universally, the perpetrator(s) will be ejected and banned for life from the ballpark, and may also face criminal charges depending on the nature of the offence.

In cases when a game is broadcast on television and a person or small group runs onto the field, the broadcaster will cut to another camera shot elsewhere in the stadium, to the announcers in the press box, or to a commercial break instead of focusing on the person(s); this is to avoid to giving attention to their behaviour, and to discourage imitators who might try the same thing.

Famous incidents

  • New York Yankees vs. Washington Senators (30 September 1971; American League): With the Senators preparing to move to the Dallas area the following season, thousands of non-paying spectators entered RFK Stadium for the Senators' final home game after security left mid-game. In the top of the ninth inning, with two out and the Senators leading 7-5, several hundred fans ran onto the field, tearing up the turf and stealing bases for souvenirs. Without security, order could not be restored, and the game was forfeited to the Yankees.
  • Texas Rangers vs. Cleveland Indians (4 June 1974; American League): In an effort to increase attendance, the Indians arranged a "Ten Cent Beer Night" promotion, drawing over 25,000 fans—three times their normal home crowd. The game itself was plagued by sporadic pitch invasions and objects thrown into the field by inebriated fans. In the ninth inning, a scuffle between a pitch invader and Texas outfielder Jeff Burroughs ended with a riot involving thousands of fans and both teams, and the Indians were forfeited.
  • [15]
  • Kansas City Royals vs. New York Yankees (14 October 1976; American League Championship Series): Chris Chambliss hit a walk-off home run in game five of the series to send the Yankees to their first World Series in twelve years, and fans rushed onto the field while Chambliss circled the bases. The scene was so frenetic that Chambliss himself wasn't even sure he touched home plate in the chaos, and had to be escorted back onto the field by police after fans had left to step on home plate in view of the home plate umpire.
  • Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox (12 July 1979; American League): In a promotion famously known as Disco Demolition Night fans were invited to bring disco records with them to Comiskey Park. The records would then be destroyed in between games of a doubleheader. Fans were so caught up in the anti-disco mania that a near-riot broke out and the second game had to be cancelled. The game was eventually forfeited by the White Sox.

Morganna, the Kissing Bandit

Steve Garvey, and Cal Ripken, Jr.[16]


College basketball has a similar phenomenon, known as "storming the court". This normally happens for the same reasons as storming the field in college football, and is somewhat required on the lower levels of the sport, as in some gyms, the only way to exit from the stands is to go on or near the court.


It used to be a common occurrence at the end of cricket Test matches for the crowd to invade the pitch to watch the presentation from the pavilion balcony. In the UK, this tradition ended in 2001 after a steward was injured in a pitch invasion at a one-day match between England and Pakistan.[19] Invading the pitch can now warrant a £1,000 fine and a lifetime ban from the ground. Post-match presentations are now held on the field.

In 1982, a pitch invasion at the WACA led to Australian bowler Terry Alderman suffering a shoulder injury when attempting to apprehend one of the intruders.[20]

Two One Day International matches at the Raman Subba Row declared the match to be tied.[21]

Gaelic football and hurling

In Gaelic football and hurling, both national sports of Ireland, pitch invasions were acceptable and most widely seen at Provincial and All-Ireland Finals. However there has only been one occurrence at Croke Park, after the 2010 Leinster Senior Football Championship Final, due to a crackdown since 2009 by the GAA, though they still occur in other stadia around the country.

International rules football

International rules football, a hybrid of Aussie Rules and Gaelic football is not known for pitch invasions, however a famous pitch invasion occurred in the first test of the 2006 International Rules Series at Pearse Stadium, Galway after Ireland defeated Australia.

The game included several impersonators and streakers, but at the end of the game, when Ireland had come from behind to win with goals in the dying seconds of the match, the crowd rushed the field, causing much controversy with the Australian players.

Rugby league

In New South Wales Rugby League matches up until the 1980s, spectators often took to the field on the completion of the match within seconds after the final siren. This required the players to navigate through a crowd of people when coming off the field, and the cardboard corner posts were usually taken as "souvenirs".

This practice was discouraged when the publicly viewable game clock stopped with five minutes to play in order to ensure that spectators, not knowing when the game was about to finish, could not jump the gun and enter the playing arena with the game unfinished. Eventually the tradition died out, and spectators rarely, if ever, take the field in the present day National Rugby League; fines of $7000 and lifetime bans exist for those who do so.

In 2007, a match between Hull KR and Hull FC at Craven Park also known as the 'Hull Derby', the match ended at a score off 30 – 20 in favor of Hull FC. After the final whistle Hull FC fans raided the pitch to congratulate their players; however, it got out of control after a female Hull FC fan attacked a Hull KR fan with an umbrella, and damage was caused to the ground.

The Rugby Football League fined both clubs; however, it heavily criticized Hull KR for the lack of stewards at the ground.

Rugby union

Pitch invasions have occurred throughout the history of rugby union, with some particular moments being the most infamous. In the past, additional security support has been constructed at stadiums due to foreseen trouble. An early example of this was at the 1924 Summer Olympics, when a wire fence was constructed to protect United States players.

Infamous pitch invasions

  • During the 1971 Springbok tour, hundreds were arrested after they tried to disrupt test matches between the Springboks and Australia in response to South African apartheid policies. Some people even attempted to saw down goal posts and dig trenches in the surface at the Sydney Cricket Ground to try to stop a test match going ahead, and in Queensland, a state of emergency was issued following fears prompted from the behaviour of people at the previous tests. Due to the success of the protests in disrupting the event, the Australian Cricket Board canceled the South African team's imminent tour due to security reasons.
  • Perhaps the most infamous of pitch invasions at rugby matches occurred at the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand. At Rugby Park in Hamilton, 350 people pulled down a fence to invade the pitch, and police were forced to cancel the match after arresting a number of people after they got word that an escaped prisoner was piloting a light plane to fly around the stadium. The last test at Eden Park was disrupted after protesters threw flour bombs and other objects onto the pitch to disrupt the game.
  • During a 2002 rugby Tri-Nations match in Durban between South Africa and New Zealand, a drunk South African fan, Pieter van Zyl, scaled a perimeter fence, ran onto the pitch and tackled the referee, David McHugh of Ireland, leaving McHugh with a dislocated shoulder and having to be carried from the pitch on a stretcher. Springbok lock, AJ Venter punched van Zyl and All Blacks flanker Richie McCaw wrestled him to the ground whereupon police and security arrested him. van Zyl was convicted of trespassing and assault, and was sentenced to three months in jail, fined $275, and banned for life from attending rugby matches in South Africa.
  • Another incident involving the South African team took place at the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia when an intoxicated Samoan fan, with his face painted in the red and blue of the Samoan flag, ran onto the pitch and attempted to tackle Springbok Louis Koen as he was kicking a goal in the late stages of a pool match against Samoa. Koen kicked the goal, but also managed to inadvertently knock the fan unconscious with a kick to the head, as the fan had tried to tackle Koen around the legs.
  • During a 2011 Top 14 match between Basque rivals Biarritz and Bayonne, players from both teams were involved in a brief off-the-ball brawl, among them Biarritz' Basque star and France international Imanol Harinordoquy. His father Lucien ran onto the pitch to attempt to defend his son, but was quickly wrestled to the ground by Bayonne players and taken from the pitch. The elder Harinordoquy issued an apology after the match, with his son choosing not to comment on the affair.[22]

Arena sports

The concept is nearly impossible to emulate in ice hockey due to the sideboards and Plexiglas panels which keep the ice surface, team benches, and penalty boxes completely separate from the crowd, and the high probability of injury from attempting to storm the ice surface without skates (likewise with arena football or indoor soccer due to the same partitioning devices being used). A few attempts to do so have usually ended with physical player intervention.


  1. ^ The Chicago All-Star Game, 1976
  2. ^ Bills stop skid vs. Dolphins
  3. ^ Kentucky Fined $50,000 for Third Offence Sportsmanship Violation.
  4. ^ "Football (Offences) Act 1991".  
  5. ^ "Joint probe launched into trouble".  
  6. ^ "QPR braced for heavy blow".  
  7. ^ Brown, Oliver; Mole, Giles (26 August 2009). "Violence at West Ham v Millwall a 'disgrace' says Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe".  
  8. ^ Sarajevo fans invaded the pitch (in Bosnian)
  9. ^ Željezničar celebrated the return of the title (in Bosnian)
  10. ^ "Knallkörper, Jubelchaos - und der Aufstieg" (in German).  
  11. ^ "Newcastle United Fans Slammed Over Wigan Pitch Invasion". The Journal. 23 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-23. 
  12. ^ "Malmö fansen stormar planen efter sm-guldet säkrats på Borås arena" (in Swedish). YouTube. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  13. ^ The day a pitch-invading porker made Plugger feel pig sick
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External links

  • Video of Aussie Rules kick-to-kick pitch invasion Brisbane Lions vs West Coast Eagles game from YouTube
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