OPINION: Why we need to stop the current culture around referees

Referees in any sport are public enemy number one, that is a fact all over the world.

We don’t like to admit it, but when our teams lose a game, we look to a certain refereeing decision and say “they spoiled the game”.

But what a lot of us fail to understand is that referees are only human, and humans make mistakes, and there are cerain amendities made by the referees that a lot of people don’t understand.

For example, the offside rule. One of the most common things you will hear at a rugby league match is ‘get them onside, referee!’ but did you know the referees are told to take them back 12m instead of 10? Super League officials introduced it a few years ago to try and combat the amount of offside calls in a match.

All over the rugby league circle, there have been a number of incidents with referees that certainly cross the line.

The worst one for me saw Tongan fans calling referee Matt Cechin a racist because he didn’t award Tonga a try in the dying minutes of their World Cup Semi Final against England.

In the NCL for example, there have been a few referees looking to go on strike in protest of the treatment some of them have had, I myself have witnessed two examples of players being sent off for verbally abusing the referee.

Abusing a referee always sets a dangerous precedent, no matter what level you are playing at. You always have to think of the next generation of players, they may see you doing it and think its ok.

As a former football referee myself, I am all too familiar with the abuse you can get from the sidelines.

Many people will be familiar with a video that went viral of a referee leaving a rugby club in Yorkshire after a U15s match, and people start coming up to the car, blocking its path and verbally abusing him.

At the end of the day, rugby is only a game. No lives are at stake, or anything like that, especially at the community level.

I also believe we need to stop automatically blaming the referee for the outcomes of matches. Nine times out of ten, clubs lose rugby matches because they have not played well enough.

If the game is truly to progress, we need to look at ourselves and not just blame the referee for every little thing that goes wrong.

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