“Referee Abuse, Respect and Discipline”
Respect and discipline are two of the five core values of Rugby Union. Over the last few seasons the Society has seen an increasing number of referees retire from the game, in some cases solely as a result of the way in which they have been treated, abused and spoken to by players, spectators or club members. This season, up to 28th January, there has been an increase in red cards for dissent and official abuse. So far this season, there have been 17 cases in Lancashire and Cheshire. This is unacceptable.
Accordingly, the Society’s Executive have resolved to appoint a working group which I will Chair to investigate the increase, the causes and/reasons and the possible ways of dealing with this unacceptable aspect of our game.
To Clubs in particular, you should be aware that the recruitment and retention of referees is becoming increasingly difficult and one of the reasons is match official abuse. Ultimately, apart from officiating itself, it is the Clubs and the Players who will suffer – the old cliche still applies – no referee no game!
I am sure you will all appreciate the need to eradicate this worrying trend of lack of respect for officials. If something is not done soon, including possibly the imposition of a complete zero tolerance to dissent and abuse then the long term consequences for the game are potentially devastating! In the past 14 days we nearly lost a very senior and experienced referee directly as a result of his experiences at a level 6 game. Fortunately, he has decided not to “retire”. Additionally, there were two other instances of referee abuse the same weekend! This has to stop!