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Canberra Rugby League Referees Correct In Strike Action Following Abuse

The Mad Chatter - Friday, August 12, 2011

Canberra Rugby League RefereesCongratulations to the Canberra District Rugby League Referees Association (CDRLRA) for saying enough is enough and threatening strike action. The CDRLRA had to take this extraordinary and correct step following an outbreak of on field violence, abuse both on and off the field and it culminated in a 15-year-old female touch judge being called a "f#cking cheat" by a grown man. What a hero he must be!!

This is completely disgraceful behaviour from players and team officials in one of the oldest rugby league competitions in Australia. I think the referees have made the right choice in striking.

We all know referees have to cop a reasonable amount of abuse because it simply comes with the territory. However, recent events in Canberra have just gone too far and it appears the Canberra Region Rugby League administrators have been slow to react and this has prompted the refs to blow full time on supplying referees for the local senior competition. The juniors will not be affected. Some of the recent incidents include a 15-year-old female touch judge being called a 'f#cking cheat' and the leading whistle blowing in the district being called a cheat. That player was who called the leading referee a cheat was suspended for 12 months but on appeal it was reduced to a paltry six-week sentence. The Canberra judiciary is weak as tissue paper for backing down on this.

Other concerns of the Canberra referees were lodged with the competition organisers the Canberra Region Rugby League. These include increasing threats of physical violence towards referees, referees being abused and intimidated at judiciary meetings, young referees being reduced to tears by abuse from adults, female and young referees being taunted sexually by drunken spectators,an official from one club sending an email to other clubs criticising the standard of Canberra referees, public criticism by the Belconnen United Scholars of the association’s top referee Rod Cranston after one of their players, Tim Thorley, was suspended for contrary conduct.

Like I said, referees cop a reasonable amount of abuse and are happy to do so. They know the crowd loves getting stuck into them but to have drunken men making lewd comments to younger female officials is a joke. Also sending emails criticising referees is weak as you know what. That bloke should have been tough enough to come out publicly and say something if he had that much of a problem.

The referees have asked for the following demands to be met before returning to the paddock.

  • The local rugby league chairman Noel Bissett to release a statement supporting the competition’s officials. 
  • The Belconnen United Scholars to retract and apologise for recent comments made to the media about senior referee Rod Cranston. 
  • The Gungahlin Bulls to retract and apologise for an email circulated earlier this year criticising the standard of refereeing in Canberra.

Former leading NRL referee Bill Harrigan has backed the Canberra association.

“To me integrity is something that you can only give away, nobody can take it off you. If the stance that has been taken by the Canberra officials is because they believe they are guarding their integrity, then I fully support that,” he said.

“Five players called me a cheat in my career, every one of them was sent straight off. One person called me biased in the public domain, I sued them. That’s how I look at it.”

I understand as I write this piece these demands are being met by the competition administrators and it is likely the referees will pull on the jersey this weekend for the final round of the competition. That's a good win for the whistle blowers and it is a shame it got this far because of clowns in Canberra who think they are tough and clever. No one is bigger then the game and the pelicans who are now being made to publicly apologise may have learned that lesson this week.

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