THE NSW Rugby League has an obligation to send a strong message that violence won’t be tolerated, Group 11 secretary Ross McDermott said.
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A 34-year-old trainer was stood down by Cronulla Junior Rugby League and will face court after it was alleged he attacked a 16-year-old referee during an under-12s match in Sydney.

The referee had to be taken to the Children’s Hospital at Randwick, where he was treated for bruising.

McDermott said the sport’s governing bodies had to show the safety of participants was the number one priority and anyone who resorted to violence wasn’t welcome in the sport.

At a time when Group 11 and the wider rugby league community was struggling to attract referees, McDermott said the sport had to make their stance clear.

“We are doing everything we can to attract young kids to refereeing and then you get incidents like this that turn them away. It’s up to the NSW Rugby League to take a stand and it’s also a police issue now,” he said.

“The person has been suspended from all rugby league pending police action and if they are found guilty, they should get a strong sentence.”

McDermott said Group 11 had been working hard to attract new referees and keep their existing ones and he said the main reason people were handing in their whistle was time, rather than any concerns over safety.

“We have been working closely with our referees and Willy Barnes and whilst abuse is an issue, it’s not the top issue for our referees,” he said.

“The biggest problem is time. People are finding it hard to commit every week when they have other things going on in their lives.

“Our numbers are better now than they were a couple of years ago but it’s still week to week problem because someone will say they can do these weeks but not this one.”

There were a range of ways the group has been trying to increase numbers, McDermott said, and some of them had focused on refereeing as a different challenge to playing.

“We are always on the lookout for new referees so if anyone is interested they should contact us,” McDermott said.

“We have a couple of very good young referees, a 14 and 15-year-old but we aren’t going to rush them along, we are just going to allow them to develop.”

“One approach we are trying to take is encouraging kids who might otherwise not continue in the sport to become a referee. Once they reach 15 or 16 a lot of kids don’t keep playing but they still have a love for the sport and this is a way they can stay involved.

“Former players are also taking it up and they tell us they still love running out and making sure the game is a good spectacle for the crowds.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


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