World of Sport

Rugby match interrupted by gun battle on adjoining pitch

Any sportsman coming up through the ranks knows what it's like when their match is disrupted on the people next door. Whether its balls flying over from the wrong pitch or ill-timed cheers spoiling your concentration at a key moment, it's just part of life.

But an under-19s rugby semi-final in Argentina suffered disruption on a completely different level as gunfire broke out on a neighbouring pitch.

Yep, gunfire. On the field next door a bunch of ageing footballers from various sides around Salta were playing a veterans match that turned nasty. According to local reports, when a brawl broke out on the pitch one player pulled a knife on an opponent; the opponent responded by pulling a gun; at which point the knife-wielding player's team-mates all pulled out their guns too.

That's when the shooting started. Seven shots were fired in total, and the rugby players of both Gimnasia y Toro and Universitario hit the deck, fearing for their lives - as did the 500-strong crowd watching the tournament, among them several hundred children who had been playing a kids' tournament earlier in the day.

The police were swiftly called, but the violent footballers - no doubt fearing arrest - apparently fled the scene before they arrived.

Eyewitnesses claim it was a "miracle" that nobody was killed. Argentine newspaper Ole reported that the only casualty was the referee, who was hospitalised for multiple injuries he sustained during the original on-pitch altercation.