Rugby World Cup chief executive Martin Snedden described New Zealanders’

treatment of Australian fans as “disappointing” after fierce

trans-Tasman rivalries took on a spiteful edge.

Australian fans

complained of being spat on and abused when the Wallabies slumped to a

shock defeat against Ireland in Auckland last weekend, identifying New

Zealanders, not travelling Irish fans, as the culprits.


and New Zealand have always enjoyed a healthy level of sporting rivalry

but Snedden said it would be uncharacteristic if it had crossed the

line into outright hostility.

“The overwhelming response here has

been one of welcoming and supporting the visiting teams and their

fans,” the RWC chief told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“If some

visiting Wallaby fans have not been welcomed this way, we would be very

disappointed, as this would definitely be out of character with the way

New Zealanders have looked after our visitors over the past two weeks.”


online poll conducted by the Sydney newspaper found 61 per cent of

10,500 respondents felt threatened attending a game with New Zealand


The home fans’ rancour towards Australia has been

partly fuelled by New Zealand-born Quade Cooper’s presence in the

Wallabies’ team, particularly as he has a reputation for needling the

All Blacks’ revered skipper Richie McCaw.

The Wallabies are also

seen as perhaps the main obstacle to the All Blacks’ hopes of breaking a

24-year World Cup drought, explaining the unrestrained glee with which

many New Zealanders greeted Australia’s 15-6 loss to Ireland.


Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen admitted he was enjoying

Australia’s discomfort but said the historic rivalry was tempered with


“I mean we’ve gone to war and fought shoulder to shoulder,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“They’re probably looked upon as the big brother and we’re the little brother, we want to belt them, they want to belt us.


if they’re suffering a bit at the moment, the little brother will be

smiling and chuckling away, won’t he? So we’ll enjoy that while we can.”


TVNZ presenter Alison Mau, an Australian who moved across the Tasman in

the 1990s, said she had never seen such vitriol against her homeland.


the first time, I feel there might be a bit more to it that just good

fun between mates. It worries me,” she told the New Zealand Herald.

“The worst sledges (insults) are generally fuelled by alcohol and are both unprintable and not worth the ink.”


attributed the animosity to New Zealand’s inferiority complex about

Australia, which is both richer than its neighbour and has long enjoyed

sporting ascendancy, including winning two Rugby World Cups to New

Zealand’s one.