Open letter to all Players, Coaches, Spectators and Clubs in Oxfordshire
MATCH OFFICIAL ABUSE
This weekend we witnessed a match being abandoned due to match official abuse and general ill-discipline. Last weekend at least two match officials were abused at a different club. This season Oxfordshire RFU disciplinary have already had to deal with 8 occasions of serious match official abuse. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP or we will have no community game in future!
Before you think this doesn’t apply to you and stop reading, you do have a part to play in stamping this out. Please be aware that our match officials are unpaid volunteers like the rest of us. They do this for our game.
No one, including qualified referees, should be directing comments towards the match officials during the game. The referee will make decisions in real time based on what they see on the pitch. Match officials will be happy to discuss any queries you may have regarding decisions at the appropriate time if they are made in the correct way. This would usually be in the clubhouse after the match and only at the invitation of the referee.
- If you are a player and telling the referee what you think of their decisions and swearing at them what do you think will happen? Most likely you will end up with a red card, put your team at a disadvantage and can look forwards to several weeks out of the game.
- If you are a coach or club official and telling the referee what you think of them, you are not helping your team. Multiple coaches this season have served lengthy touchline bans for doing exactly this. Before you open your mouth, just think about what will happen. You won’t help your team on the day, and you won’t be coaching for quite some time.
- As a spectator if you hear people near you questioning decisions or abusing the match officials you need to act. You must ensure that a club official is aware and then let the club resolve the problem.
The consequence of the abuse this weekend is that the referee involved declined to referee a match the next day. The selfish actions of a small number of people on Saturday could have impacted another 30+ players on Sunday. The match official from last weekend is also not in the middle this week. With tackle height changes next season, we are all going to have to adjust our understanding of the game. If match officials continue to be abused, then we will lose them from the game. IF WE LOSE THEM FROM THE GAME THERE WILL BE NO GAME. Whoever you are, if you love rugby, it is YOUR responsibility to stop this. If you don’t want to live our values, go do some other sport.