STANDARDS of behaviour might be declining on and off the field but the Ipswich Rugby League (IRL) is getting equally tough dealing with the problem.
Ipswich Referees Association president Paul Bedford said IRL referees were better supported by the league now than previously with a “zero tolerance” approach to bad behaviour.
“They support us 100 percent,” Bedford said of the IRL. “Since (IRL chairman) Jack Rhea took over from Mark Boettcher we have had nothing but support.
“This year we have had more support than ever. In the last few years things are slowly coming good.”
The debate over behavioural standards comes in the wake of recent incidents from two round 15 matches on July 18.
One involved a referee being knocked over and threatened by two Swifts Reserve grade players and the other saw spectators throwing punches at players and other spectators when Brothers hosted Goodna.
Swifts Rugby League Club president Vic Cantrell agreed with the long suspensions handed out to Foaga Fuimaono (five-and-a half-years) and Michael Dodd (one-and-a half-years) after they threatened referee Liam Doherty.
However, he said there was little clubs could do to prevent it.
“As a committee we're trying to run things as best we can,' Cantrell said.
“The players need to respect the club.
“How do you get that respect?
“You don't have loyal players like you used to have. There is a few.”
Dodds had been one of those and Cantrell defended him.
“Dodds has been with the club a long time,” Cantrell said.
“When the ref said he had to go he got out of there. It was a spur of the moment thing, to my knowledge.”
Bedford believes the biggest problem is the abuse referees get from spectators.
“It is not only in rugby league and is state and nationwide,” he said.
“People at clubs and grounds have got to take responsibility. It is getting harder and harder to retain referees.”
Bedford suggested club officials needed to do more to get rid of problem spectators before things turned nasty.