In the tour opener at Gisborne, anti-tour protestors had managed to break through a perimeter fence but were prevented from occupying the field and disrupting the match.
Three days later, Rugby Park in Hamilton was packed as the Ranfurly Shield holders prepared to take on the Springboks. A total of 535 police officers were present in the city. With disrupting matches seen as a cornerstone of any protest action, the Waikato Rugby Union had taken extra precautions to prevent a possible pitch invasion.
The protest planners had also been busy buying tickets for the game – over 200 were purchased – to ensure protestors could make their presence known from within the ground. As it was a weekend game, it was possible to get more people to the planned protest action, and around 5000 gathered at Garden Place to march on Rugby Park. Plans were in place to tear down perimeter fencing and flood the pitch with protestors. This was achieved shortly before kick-off and approximately 350 protestors invaded the pitch, as one protestor remembers.
Ripping down the fence took about 10 seconds – it was very fast, the crowd on the bank pulled away from us and a flood of people went through and onto the ground. We ran under the goal posts into the middle. I remember the priests struggling with a bloody big cross.
Police formed a cordon around this group, which had linked arms to form a solid block in the middle of the pitch. Police arrested about 50 of them over a period of an hour but were becoming increasingly concerned that they could not control the rugby crowd. Skirmishes broke out and objects were hurled at the protestors.
It was terrifying, I don't know how big the crowd was, but they were clearly furious – bottles and God knows what else were hurled at us, and people kept trying to get onto the pitch. The police looked vulnerable as they spread out around the whole ground.
Reports were also coming in that Pat McQuarrie had stolen a light plane from Taupo and was heading for the stadium. While there was confusion as to his intentions, the police decided that the situation was getting out of hand and cancelled the match for security reasons.
The ground announcement of this decision was greeted with howls of protest and chants of 'We want rugby! We want rugby!' This was also the cue for a number of spectators to attack the protestors with fists, boots, cans and bottles. The protestors were eventually ushered from the ground, with enraged rugby spectators lashing out at them.
All of this was captured live on TV, and the images were beamed around the world.