West End U18 player banned for 16 months after ref abuse
THE Ipswich Rugby League hopes a 16-month ban is a strong deterrent to players abusing referees.
That is the sentence handed to the West End under-18 player who threatened and abused the referee in a game at Daniels Park last Saturday.
After threatening the referee on the field, he approached him on the sideline after the game with further threats.
He is now unable to play rugby league until after the end of the 2014 season, with a suspended three-year sentence on top of that.
Another West End player received a four-week suspension for two charges of contrary conduct, for disputing the referee's decision and refusing to leave the field.
The club has also been placed on a bond, meaning any similar incidents could result in a fine.
The IRL is also working with the club to provide a lock-up facility for referees, to afford them some sort of protection from the abuse like the referee was subjected to last weekend.
West End president Tamara Levao described the penalties as "fair".
IRL chairman Jack Rhea is confident it was an isolated incident.
"There was a bit of push and shove," Rhea said.
"Probably the worst thing was the bloke who abused the ref.
"It's not going to be tolerated, that kind of thing."
Rhea had some sympathy for the West End player at losing the privilege of playing rugby league for 18 months.
But he insisted it was important to send out a strong message that would deter any similar behaviour.
"I would hope so," Rhea said.
"They're under-18s and they're enthusiastic. He just took it a bit far."
Rhea insists that overall the referees in the IRL are well respected and not under threat from abusive players.
Nor did he think there was a problem at higher levels of the game that may be influencing younger players.
"I don't think so," Rhea said.
"I don't see much of it at NRL or Queensland Cup.
"They're out to do a job and whether they do a good or a bad job, players just need to leave them alone."