Matt Richens: The ref-haters have to go

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 11:00 17/06/2013

It's little wonder Canterbury Rugby League general manager Craig Kerr spends his weekends on the side of a rugby field, not a league one.

Again club rugby league has made the news for off-field rather than on-field reasons and Kerr, still a young man, will no doubt be going grey before his time.

Kerr must now dread the all too often "please explain" call from The Press each week and with all the dramas in "his sport" you can understand why he instead runs water bottles for the championship-winning Lincoln University rugby union side on his Saturdays.

It needs to be mentioned quickly that Kerr does a power of work for rugby league during the week and the weekends so it's not as if he's shirking his responsibilities, though diehards will no doubt feel uncomfortable with the sport's local boss is watching 15-a-side rather than 13-a-side where there is continuous drama.

The Hornby-Aranui club game on Saturday was called off early for dissent.

Referee Steve Toms called fulltime 10 minutes early at Crosbie Park and while little information has so far come from Kerr and co, That's Rich understands the dissent was serious and on-going.

It came from spectators and Aranui players and it is understood Toms warned the players he would call the game off.

The root of the issue is an on-going belief from the Aranui club that their side is repeatedly and deliberately treated poorly by the referees.

One anonymous Aranui club member recently rang The Press to suggest the referees met regularly to discuss how they could disadvantage the Aranui club.

Now while that is ridiculous and no-one in their right mind believes it, it does speak to just how hard done by Aranui believe they are.

The eastern club already had home games taken away from them because of their behaviour - in a match also against Hornby.

That ban was rescinded recently.

Aranui are last on the eight-team premier table and, adding insult to injury on Saturday, looked set to cause a major upset over Hornby.

It was only when Hornby took a narrow two-point lead - their first lead of the match - that Toms called the game off.

Now that clearly wasn't a deliberate ploy, but it was like pouring petrol on a well-fuelled and slow burning flame.

Toms did the right thing.

If clubs can't keep their players and spectators under control, they need to be punished.

This action, though severe, will surely have sent a loud and clear message to every club; misbehave and you'll pay the price.

Hornby and Halswell were sent that message last week when they were both fined $2000 as well as a suspended punishment for their part in an ugly, fight-filled game last weekend.

The game is not meant to be about referees; they're just there to allow players to play their game.

So leave them alone!

Surely people are clever enough to realise they're going to get calls go against them and some their way.

Seriously, only morons actually believe referees and officials go out there to wreck a game and favour one side.

These people give up their time, often for little or no money and all they get is abuse.

There is an absolute and true possibility that some sports will eventually not have enough referees and umpires to officiate even the top grades.

Something needs to be done about it.

There is no money in the kitty to play these good people $500 a game or any other monetary incentive so there needs to be something else to make it appealing.

They need to know they're not giving up their time just to be harassed, abused and taunted by drop-kicks on the sideline.

Rugby league is DEFINITELY not the only sport with this problem.

Every sport has it.

Netball is the best off. Through a tradition of politeness, decisions just aren't questioned.

They don't have yellow cards or red cards, they don't have fights or games called off early.

Women are equal to men aren't they? Well it's about time men started acting like it.

There needs to be an outlet for the good fans - and most are good - where they can point out the drop-icks and have them removed.

That's unlikely to happen because most fans would rather notbe involved and there's no money for security guards.

So there has to be a change in mentality. People need to stand up to the loud-mouth referee and umpire-haters and let them know their behaviour isn't good enough.

What do you think?

- © Fairfax NZ News

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