Where the line is crossed between passion and hostility is often in the eye of the beholder but some observers in Cardiff this autumn have felt increasingly uneasy about some fan’s behaviour going way too far.
The WRU might be at pains to point out arrests have not increased while rugby matches remain among the easiest events to police at the Principality Stadium, but anyone who witnessed a steward being head-butted last Saturday in full view of the press box before hearing a disabled man had been verbally abused in the most vile terms, must have concerns about the naked hostility of some fans. Alcohol, it can’t be denied, is playing its part.
The Principality Stadium is rightly acknowledged as one of the great venues in the world in which to play and watch sport, generating a gladiatorial sense of theatre which few stadiums can match.
At their best, Wales fans can lay claim to being the best, and certainly the most vociferous, on earth. But, much like their team, the performance of some Welsh fans has been significantly below par this autumn.
The match between Wales and South Africa will see almost as much scrutiny of what goes on off the field as what happens on it. There is a mood to change tack completely.
Some are talking seriously about banning alcohol inside the ground.
The story which emerged this week about Robin Hindle-Fisher – already the victim of the thalidomide scandal which saw unknowing mothers prescribed an anti-morning sickness drug which led to 1000s of babies dying and 1000s more left severely deformed in the 1950s and 60s and of which the morons who abused him would surely have known nothing of – being verbally abused by a group of so-called fans inside the ground made any right-minded human being feeling sick to the very pit of their stomach.
Beth Fisher, whose uncle was the victim of the tirade from a handful of thugs who’d allegedly drunk eight pints each during the course of the first half between Wales and New Zealand, was shocked by their response after being asked to sit down in order to allow others to see the game.
“It was a moment I don’t ever want to go through again,” she said. “Quite frankly, it’s put me off going back to the rugby again.
“This is not just about physical remarks about my uncle, it’s about verbal abuse at a rugby match we were all there to enjoy.
“Having spoken to people after, I know I am not the only one and this is becoming a serious problem.
There will be…