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The Abuse Of NRL Referees Needs To Stop, It's Already Impacting The Wider Game

The Abuse Of NRL Referees Needs To Stop, It's Already Impacting The Wider Game

This treatment is becoming the norm at the top of our game and the abuse is trickling down through to the junior grades.


The abuse of referees in the NRL needs to stop.

It’s one thing to question a decision, but the mistreatment and verbal barrage that seems to be on constant loop has reached a level that is totally unacceptable. They are human and humans make errors – this is inevitable.

But what they receive for making those mistakes is nothing short of disgusting at times.

Let's be honest, the officials have an extremely tough and thankless job.

Being out in the middle and in charge of a game is hard enough, but to be constantly under the microscope, have every ruling that is made scrutinised, and then being ripped to shreds regardless of the outcome must be exhausting.

We have all screamed at the TV over a call that has gone against us.

We have all yelled out “Are you blind ref?” when something gets missed.

Oh, and how could we forget the good old “he’s been doing it all day ref” cries?

A bit of frustration and emotion; that comes with the territory.

But it seems we have strayed a long way from that territory and ended up somewhere very dark and disturbing.

The referees are copping personal attacks through social media, their families now find themselves in the firing line, and earlier this year some NRL officials received death threats.

Death threats.

Can you believe it?

It’s a bloody football game.

How in the world did we end up here?

Because the abuse is not just coming from the fans.

It’s coming from our players and the media, making some in the crowd believe it's OK to imitate.

We are currently waiting to see what punishment Brandon Smith is going to receive after his appalling outburst against referee Adam Gee on Thursday night.

The Melbourne Storm star called Gee a ‘cheating b***ard’ during his side's match against the Cronulla Sharks and was immediately sent to the sin bin for his outburst.

Regardless of whether emotions were high, or that it was off the cuff, or that he didn’t even mean it – either way, you simply cannot say it. 


And then during the Brisbane Broncos vs St George Dragons game on Sunday, Channel 9 commentator Paul Vautin blew up deluxe when the Red V’s Tariq Sims was marched for ten after a late hit on Adam Reynolds.

"Are you serious? That will do me, that is just disgusting," Vautin cried after the incident.

No Fatty, what’s disgusting is your outburst about a player being penalised for doing something the NRL have been trying to scrub out of the game to keep everyone safe.

And because this is becoming the norm at the top of our game, the abuse is trickling down through to the junior grades.

Park players screaming obscenities at the referees.

Coaches telling referees to meet them in the car park after the game.

Like, seriously?

There have even been reports of teenagers in charge of under 9’s matches copping a mouthful from parents.

I met a father this year that stays to watch all the games that his teenage daughter officiates, just to keep an eye on any other parent that hurls abuse at her from the sideline.

Last year in far North Queensland, a bunch of young referees had refused to take the field after receiving a tonne of abuse from coaches, trainers, players and parents.

Their strike meant Rockhampton Referees President was forced to withdraw all referees from Rockhampton schoolboy matches for a whole round – meaning no one got to play.

Could you imagine that happening in the NRL?

I don’t think people understand – no refs, no games.

The numbers of referees are dwindling at an alarming rate throughout the country because they have had enough, and it is only going to get worse if these poor guys and girls keep receiving the current levels of abuse.

They signed up to be part of the game they love, not to be threatened.

We all get upset with an incorrect ruling – I mean, even the right ones make us see red when they are against our side.

But attacking the referee is not the answer.

The more difficult life becomes for our officials, they will continue to leave the sport.

And as a result, we will attract a smaller number of applicants to fill the roles each year.

So when there's no one else left who fancies it, imagine if they turn to you to give it a crack?

Featured Image Credit: Twitter/Fox League

Topics: Australia, NRL, Rugby League, Melbourne Storm