A MAJOR row blew up last night after an official report claimed that wife-beating doubles on international rugby days, quadruples if Wales are beaten and multiplies by eight if Wales lose to England.
The shocking assertion is contained in an in-depth report on substance abuse sent to members of the National Assembly, one of whom has placed it on his own website.
Its impact is likely to be greater because of the imminence of the friendly match between Wales and England at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
The report, commissioned by the Rhondda Cynon Taf Substance Misuse Action Team from Nacro (National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders) Cymru, says, Alcohol was the main concern of residents and most of the service providers.
Drinking alcohol in public, particularly by groups of young people, was linked to antisocial behaviour and fear of crime.
The police consider that alcohol causes more problems for them than drugs, with disorder, assaults, domestic violence and general nuisance. The police commented that there were not many complaints about drugs because it was an underground culture.
Rugby supporters were considered to be becoming a problem.
One person interviewed for the report said, A few years ago there was no problem with the rugby crowd, but everybody these days goes out with the sole intention of getting blasted.
The report goes on, A recent quick and dirty survey done by Rhondda Cynon Taf police showed that whenever there was a Welsh international rugby match violence towards women doubled, when Wales lost it quadrupled and when Wales lost to England it was multiplied by eight.
Last night the Welsh Rugby Union questioned the reports assertion about violence against women.
Have they interviewed the people who perpetrated the alleged offences and ascertained they were directly related to a match of rugby? said WRU general manager Steve Lewis.
Show us the evidence, the population size and the number of returns etc.
Welsh Womens Aid director-Sian James said, This is not a pattern we have noticed particularly but we are extremely concerned at increasing levels of violence towards women and children at all times of the year.
South Wales West Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black, who chairs the National Assemblys education and lifelong learning committee as well as Nacro Cymrus advisory council, has quoted the findings on his website.
He said, I wouldnt want to single out rugby matches in particular, but alcohol abuse is part of the culture.
In terms of rugby games it does seem that most alcoholrelated violence takes place away from the ground, either in town-centre pubs or in domestic situations.
I dont think there is an easy answer. People should stop binge-drinking, but halting it is a long-term educational problem.
Graham Davies, of the Sports Council for Wales, said, The increase in the bingedrinking culture and its links to violence which sometimes attaches itself to international sports events is something we should all be concerned about.
Using sport as an excuse for all-day drinking is clearly unacceptable and contradicts the positive benefits of sports participation which the Sports Council for Wales promotes.
In my experience those who participate and compete in sport are less likely to react badly to poor performances. They better understand the ethos of sport. They are better able to cope with winning and losing because they experience it first-hand and respect opposition as a consequence.
Through the ChwaraeTeg programme, which means Fair Play, the Sports Council has worked with governing bodies, including the WRU, to encourage participants and spectators to respect team mates, opposition and officials. This is focused on young people in a long-term bid to change behaviour and attitudes.
A spokeswoman for Nacro Cymru said the report was no longer the property of the organisation and referred us to Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Councils group director of community services, John Wrangham, who is also chairman of the action team that commissioned the report.
Mr Wrangham said, I am worried that one paragraph of this report taken out of context could damage the work we are trying to do.
It is a detailed report which examines the issues related to substance abuse thoroughly.
In commissioning this report we responded to a strategic approach being sought across Wales by the National Assembly. I am disappointed that an Assembly Member has chosen to highlight just a few lines.
The report also says that in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area there appeared to be a culture of drug users taking whatever their dealer had available. If the users drug of choice was not available they would use whatever else was on offer.
None of the service users said that police activity prevented them obtaining access to illegal drugs, says the report.