THE Rugby Football League has handed a ‘strong punishment’ to the Catalans Dragons, following the misbehaviour of their supporters at the Betfred Super League Play-Off fixture against Leeds Rhinos in September.
The Dragons have been fined £25,000, half of which has been suspended until the end of the 2023 season,
The club have also been instructed that any further misbehaviour will lead to an unprecedented punishment in the Super League era of having to play two home games behind closed doors – a sanction that has also been suspended until the end of the 2023 season.
The sanctions follow a number of previous incidents of either spectator misbehaviour or unacceptable criticism of match officials for which the club have been punished in recent seasons.
This is an agreed decision between the RFL and the club – with Catalans also pledging to launch a proactive education campaign underlining the importance of improving spectator behaviour, specifically relating to match officials.
In the agreed decision, the club acknowledge that supporters had thrown items on to the field of play during the fixture against Leeds, with matters escalating in the 78th minute when the touch-judges felt it necessary to take evasive action as they stood behind the posts.
Further objects were thrown at the match officials as they left the field, and there was a further aggressive incident requiring a response from security staff as the officials left the stadium.
Robert Hicks, the RFL’s Director of Operations and Legal, said: “This is a strong punishment and it is significant and welcome that this is a decision that has been agreed with the Catalans club.
“The presence of their club and the passion of their supporters has enhanced the Super League competition significantly for more than a decade, but the scenes during and after the Play-Off fixture in September were the latest in a number of unacceptable incidents.
“The RFL welcomes the assurance from the Catalans club that they will work proactively with their supporters to ensure a more welcoming environment for all, including match officials, from 2023.”