Police investigate referee assault

Police are investigating an alleged assault on referee Joe Stearne during Thursday’s National Conference League derby between Leeds sides Milford and Oulton Raiders.

The Castleford official was reportedly struck by a Milford player late in the first half, and the game was abandoned with Oulton 8-0 ahead.

Milford issued a statement the following morning: “We acknowledge the incident involving one of our players and last night’s referee.

“First and foremost, we send our best wishes to the referee.

“The player has been involved at our club from the juniors and we have never witnessed anything like this from him in 20 years.

“Our club is built on strong foundations, which absolutely include ‘RESPECT’ and such behaviour will not be tolerated in any way.”

The statement concluded: “The player has been stood down from playing duties whilst we conduct an internal investigation, and we will fully cooperate with the external investigation taking place.”

An RFL spokesperson said: “Our initial priority is the health and well-being of the match official involved, and we are grateful to the Milford club officials for their support following the incident.

“The offending player will be dealt with through the usual disciplinary processes, working with the NCL.

“Stearne, a grade 1 official, is receiving support from the RFL’s match officials’ department, while Rugby League Cares’ support is also there if necessary.”

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