RFL Match Officials Director Steve Ganson has called on coaches and players to think again about harassing referees, or risk some lengthy suspensions and punitive action from the RFL.
Ganson was speaking a week after trouble erupted at the clash between Catalans Dragons and Warrington Wolves in Perpignan last week, with trouble on the pitch leading to trouble off it among supporters. The RFL has since appointed a special investigator to investigate and report on the events at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.
“It’s been a challenging couple of weeks, for everyone in the match officials department,” admitted Ganson.
“But we will handle that. Our referees are hard-working, with really high levels of resilience, and we provide them with as much support as possible.
“But I do think this might a good time for all sections of the game to take a step back, and reflect, especially as we approach the business end of the season, when the game is in the national shop window, but when the pressures also increase.
“One specific example that anyone watching televised fixtures in the last couple of weeks will have noted is the question of on-field dissent.
“We’ve seen a worrying trend emerging, where certain players seem to feel it is their right to question, to argue, or in extreme cases to engage in a running battle with match officials.
“I think it’s important for me to say publicly now, so that supporters are aware as well as players and coaches, that dissent towards the match officials will not be tolerated. It’s up to the players and if they choose to do it, they should expect the consequences.
“Referees can penalise, advance the mark ten metres, sin-bin and even dismiss. Captains are entitled to seek clarification on a ruling, but not to continue to debate. I’ve seen examples of players trying to convince referees visually and verbally to rule against the opposition. But for me, that’s not acceptable in Rugby League.”
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