Protest group's warning to NRL after pitch invader cops jail sentence

·Contributor
·3-min read
The pitch invader, pictured here running onto the field during the Wests Tigers' clash with the Sharks.
The pitch invader has been jailed after running onto the field during the Wests Tigers' clash with the Sharks. Image: Getty

A senior member of the protest group behind the pitch invasion at Cronulla's PointsBet Stadium has revealed how easy it was for activist Andrew George to get onto the ground and let off a flare in front of stunned players.

And he can’t guarantee similar protest action won’t happen again at major sporting events.

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In a wake-up call for all NRL clubs – and the wider sporting community - Danny Noonan from environmental group 'Fireproof Australia' told Yahoo Sport Australia that George simply purchased a ticket at the gate, jumped a fence, ran to the middle of the field and released an orange flare before security had time to react.

The 32-year-old was handed a three-month jail sentence for his actions, but it is unlikely to deter FA from further disruptions.

"Obviously it was fairly easy. He didn't have a whole team there, there was nothing covert, there was no ninja action necessary," Noonan said.

"It does say something about the security at places like that."

Fireproof Australia won't rule out further disruptions at sporting events, admitting the publicity is good for its cause.

"I've got to be honest, it's one way that things get seen because a lot of people watch football who don’t really know a lot about what's going on with the climate," Noonan said.

"Any exposure is good exposure.

"We just hope that enough people that watch the game can get past the stunt element and see why people take it so importantly they are willing to risk their freedom.

"I honestly couldn’t tell you (about future protests at the football), but obviously if we did you will find out when we do it."

A pitch invader carrying a flare, pictured here running onto the field at PointsBet Stadium.
A pitch invader carrying a flare runs onto the field at PointsBet Stadium. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Players rattled by worrying pitch invasion

That's despite Wests Tigers co-captain James Tamou describing Sunday's incident as worrying given the players did not know what George's intentions were.

Noonan said: "I sympathise with the players and we sympathise with everybody (affected).

"We are not doing this to be selfish – we are doing it because we listen to the scientists and we truly fear for what’s coming.

"All other methods we have tried have failed for decades, so we need to get the message out."

Fireproof Australia is responsible for the human road blockades that have brought Sydney's peak hour traffic to a standstill in recent weeks.

The NSW Government recently passed laws threatening up to two years in jail for protestors carrying out similar disruptions, with George the first to be convicted under the new regulations.

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