Clark McAllister won his second cap for the Ireland rugby League side in their 24-16 win over Serbia and it is a match he is unlikely to forget.
The game was abandoned in the 65th minute after a mass brawl was sparked when Serbia’s coach stepped onto the pitch and punched one of the Ireland players.
Dr. Mick Molloy, the chairman of Rugby League Ireland, was watching the game via a live feed from his home in Dublin. He spoke to Balls.ie about the incident.
He said: “The Irish winger had scored two intercept tries and Serbia were attacking. One of their players dropped the ball, he (the Irish winger) chipped it up and was just at the point at picking it up with none of their players around him and was clear to run along the sideline and the (Serbian) coach came on and punched him and knocked him over.
“Our own coach, who is not a physically aggressive or a violent person, went over and tried to get the Serbian coach away from the incident without throwing punches. He was trying to cover him and walk away from everybody. He got punched and kicked in the middle of it.”
He added: “It was quite scary for the players. It was in the police stadium in Serbia and the police got involved and wanted to know if the Irish team wanted to press charges and they said no, they just wanted to put it behind them and get out.
“One of the Irish players was being kicked in the head... It was very disturbing, I have to say.”
Clark, who had only played two Rugby League matches before his international call-up, said he was disappointed with how the match ended but he’d rather focus on the positive aspect and the experience of playing international rugby league.
He said: “It was a sad way to end the game after travelling all that way for a friendly. It was a very physical match and it had been boiling over before the incident with three of four yellow cards.”
The weather played its part as Ireland struggled to cope with the heat.
Clark said: “It was 35 degrees at kick off so it was horrible to run about in. It was really tough going and the Serbians were used to it so that helped them.
“They were better than the Belgians (Ireland’s opponents for Clark’s first cap) and a lot more physical and athletic but we were putting in some big hits.”
Ireland’s domestic squad, made up entirely of players who play their rugby in Ireland, travel to Malta on Thursday for another friendly, with an evening kick off scheduled.
The Banbridge RFC man said: “We have another friendly against Malta but kick off is not until 9pm. It is a bit of an odd time to play a match but I’d prefer that to having to cope with the heat.
“There are a few injuries but it should more or less be the same squad of players heading.”