Ref calls off match in answer to abuse

UNDER THREAT: Ipswich Rugby League referees are increasingly becoming the target of abuse from players.
UNDER THREAT: Ipswich Rugby League referees are increasingly becoming the target of abuse from players. File

PARENTS are considering not letting their children play against West End at Daniels Park after ugly scenes that brought a premature end to the match against Norths on Saturday.

The under-18 match was called off early after the referee was threatened by two players.

One of the players then threw a water bottle at the referee, returned later to have a go at him on the sidelines and then waited in the carpark for another confrontation.

"He tried to stop the game," the father of one Norths player said in defence of the young referee.

"I would have walked off earlier.

"They just wanted to fight.

"West End didn't seem to make any effort to sideline the guy.

"He should be kicked out of the game."

If anything, the father believes the player was geed up by the abuse being levelled at the referee from parents and West End supporters on the sidelines.

He is considering not allowing his son play next time Norths draw West End at Daniels Park ... and he is not alone.

He has concerns for the future of young referees if nothing is done to prevent a similar scene.

"At Brothers two or three weeks ago, a game got called off because there was no refs," he said.

Expect it to become a common occurrence if they are not better protected, was the message.

Ipswich Rugby League boss Graham Nipperess believes clubs need to take more responsibility for providing duty officials to deal with such situations.

Nipperess was still waiting for the report from the referee when he spoke to The Queensland Times yesterday.

"Apparently as the referee was leaving the field, one of the West End players threw a bottle at him," Nipperess said.

"After he got changed, the player tried to harass the ref.

"I believe that after that there was something in the car park."

It is a situation that seems to be getting worse, which is frustrating Nipperess, given the time and effort he puts into improving standards and relations with clubs.

"It does seem to be getting worse lately and I don't know why," he said.

"There is nothing I can put my finger on."

Nipperess believes it could be the trickle down effect from an increasing lack of respect for referees at National Rugby League level.

Where players once had it drilled into them and accepted from a young age that the referee's word was law, now they feel they can challenge them.

"I think there is too much TV getting into it," Nipperess said.

"They watch the NRL players dispute decisions."

Nipperess does not have any immediate answers but supports strong sanctions against any one who threatens referees.

He also warned that should any player assault a referee, the police will be called on to press charges.

"I know the IRL are trying their hardest," Nipperess said.

"They've instructed all our refs to crack down on swearing."

If anything, the IRL referees association is increasing its work with clubs to address issues, Nipperess said.

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