Ipswich Junior Rugby League chairman Terry McGarrigal.
Ipswich Junior Rugby League chairman Terry McGarrigal. David Nielsen

Bad behaviour at junior rugby league games prompts crackdown

RECENT deterioration in the behaviour of parents and officials at Ipswich Junior Rugby League fixtures has prompted a crackdown by Ipswich league officials.

Rugby League Ipswich (RLI) called a meeting last week of all junior club representatives to address the recent spike in poor behaviour.

The QT has had reports of abuse directed towards referees and touch judges from players, officials and parents; rival parents and officials pushing and shoving in front of kids and coaches condoning fighting from their players.

"The last couple of weeks there had been a few niggly things so we thought we'd jump on it," Ipswich Junior Rugby League chairman Terry McGarrigal said.

RLI manager Brendan Rose described it as an "increasing number of disciplinary issues with coaches and staff".

"It needs to be dealt with at club level," Rose said.

"This is the line in the sand.

"We need to be moving forward to provide a safe environment for players and spectators."

Rose said the IJRL was "dealing with a number" of incidents "at the moment".

"We've handed down some sanctions recently," he said.

One junior club official has received a hefty suspension for an aggressive sideline confrontation.

But clubs have been warned that if sanctions against individuals don't work, clubs will be penalised, potentially with teams losing competition points or even being kicked out of the competition.

Rose said RLI and the IJRL had realised the need to do more than just penalise individuals who offend, by putting clubs on notice that they would also be held responsible.

Only then would a culture of condoning or ignoring bad behaviour be overcome.

"There just didn't seem to be ramifications at club level in regards to minimising it," Rose said.

"We didn't see the roll-on effect."

Rose described expulsion as the "last resort," but hoped it would help get the message across that abuse and aggression directed at others from the sidelines was unacceptable.

"These adults have to take ownership," Rose said.

"They're not playing NRL.

"They need to have fun.

"They're kids."

To achieve this the IJRL has implemented a three step plan for clubs to adhere to.

Step one is to enforce the IJRL bylaws at games.

Home clubs are required to provide a duty officer and do so.

But the rule stating away clubs are also be required to provide a duty officer will be clamped down on. As will the rule that says all touch judges must be at least 14 years of age.

Step two is to educate club staff of their game day roles "and what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour," Rose said.

Step three is to better educate coaches and club officials about behavioural expectations.

"Going forward from here we might provide a bit of support by, for example, writing up a job description for managers, etcetera," McGarrigal said.

"I've pleaded with the clubs about talking to their coaches.

"They set the whole tone.

"If the coach is yelling and screaming the players are uptight and everyone on the sidelines ends up uptight."

Rose is optimistic the message is already getting across.

"After our meeting the majority of clubs held meetings with their coaching staff and laid down the law about what we expect of you," he said.

 



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