COUNTRY Rugby League on Friday stood down all the Dubbo and Orange players involved in the Astley Cup rugby league match as police identified two students as persons of interest in an ongoing investigation into the all-in brawl.
A 17-year-old Orange High School player was taken from the field at Dubbo’s Caltex Park with blood streaming from his nose and forehead on Thursday afternoon as the game was abandoned.
The student was injured as punches and kicks were exchanged during a melee described by police and rugby league officials as an ugly episode of violence.
The teenager was taken to Dubbo Hospital with a severely swollen right eye and a seven-centimetre laceration above his right eyebrow.
Police have been told the Orange student has a possible broken nose and damaged eye socket. Orana Local Area Command investigations manager Detective Sergeant Mark Meredith was waiting for more information yesterday.
Country Rugby League western region manager Peter Clarke said he was unable to confirm or deny allegations a touch judge was threatened by an Orange High School player during the match.
Mr Clarke said an investigation was being conducted in conjunction with the National Rugby League.
Dubbo police Inspector Gemini Bakos said investigators were closely examining video footage of the bloody melee filmed by Prime 7 News.
She called on people who attended the match to assist with inquiries.
“Police are speaking to both schools and people who were present," Inspector Bakos said.
“We want to take witness statements from people who saw what occurred."
Six police officers, including a supervisor, were called to Caltex Park when the brawl erupted 15 minutes before the end of the match.
“We don't know what started the violent confrontation on the field," Inspector Bakos said.
“It turned into two groups of players and one of the fights moved towards the grandstand near where reserve players were seated on the bench.
“Two Dubbo College senior campus students, aged 16 and 18, have been identified as persons of interest.
“The 18-year-old is alleged to have moved from the reserve bench and become involved in the brawl. The 16-year-old is alleged to have been on the field when the melee started.
“More alleged offenders may be identified as the investigation continues. Appropriate action will be taken by police once the inquiries are complete.
“At this stage no one has been charged. The extent of injuries sustained will determine what charges may be laid."
Inspector Bakos said national media organisations had expressed interest in the brawl and police investigation.
“I have already done a number of telephone interviews,” she said.
“Media interest in a football match that had a shocking end is only natural. The community is alarmed and disturbed because the incident involved young children and violence.”