9 Jul 2012

Referees sick of abuse from players and supporters

10:47 pm on 9 July 2012

Referees of local rugby union and league games say they have had enough of physical and verbal abuse against them.

They are calling for clubs to take responsibility - not only for players' actions, but also how their supporters are behaving during games.

Goff Moorcock has been a referee in Wairarapa for 25 years but has decided to leave, saying the abuse from supporters and players has become too much. He says this year has been the worst so far, with three incidents.

Mr Moorcock says there are only 17 qualified referees in Wairarapa, with some taking several games in the weekend to make up the numbers.

"I've been going 25 years and I only do it because I enjoy the camaraderie with the fellow referees, but it's just getting worse and worse and worse."

Mr Moorcock says a referee was assaulted in a clubroom after a match and, in an incident on Saturday, a player given a red card went back on the field and had to be restrained by fellow players "otherwise he would have punched a referee".

Mr Moorcock hopes his decision to leave will send a message to the local rugby union and clubs to do something about the problem. He believes referees should be given more respect and may return to rugby if conditions improve.

Stan Hansen left his job as convener of referees in rugby league's southern zone after the national body reduced the fines of two clubs involved in a brawl in May this year that included players, team officials and spectators.

Mr Hansen says fines need to be tougher, not less.

Both men are calling on clubs in their regions to bring in sideline wardens or enforce penalties against supporters who mistreat referees.