Schools blow whis­tle on side­line louts

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

Mis­be­hav­ing spec­ta­tors will be shown the red card in a new ini­tia­tive to com­bat side­line abuse as the school rugby sea­son kicks off.

Auck­land Rugby match of­fi­cials man­ager Smudge McNeilage says he ex­pects a pro­gramme pro­mot­ing pos­i­tive side­line sup­port to roll out across cen­tral Auck­land schools in the near fu­ture.

The Auck­land Rugby Ref­er­ees As­so­ci­a­tion is col­lab­o­rat­ing with Man­gere East’s De La Salle Col­lege to cre­ate a more en­joy­able game ex­pe­ri­ence for those on and off the field.

Auck­land Rugby’s mes­sage is clear, McNeilage says.

‘‘A school rugby com­mu­nity needs pos­i­tive role mod­els and en­cour­age­ment on the side­line, noth­ing less.’’

The or­gan­i­sa­tion wants to tackle the is­sue be­fore it be­comes a ma­jor prob­lem.

‘‘When you’ve got hun­dreds of peo­ple at a game there is al­ways go­ing to be one id­iot. They’re in the mi­nor­ity but they’re the loud­est.

‘‘Rugby is a fan­tas­tic game to be part of,’’ McNeilage says.

‘‘And we want ev­ery­body in­volved with the game to en­joy the whole match ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘Those who jeop­ar­dise that need to know it won’t be tol­er­ated.’’

Mt Al­bert Gram­mar di­rec­tor of sport David Long says the school takes side­line abuse very se­ri­ously.

‘‘This year all stu­dents, coaches, man­agers, par­ents and sup­port­ers have been guided to our sports code of con­duct. All of our coaches have been spo­ken to about what be­hav­iour we think is ac­cept­able and what is not.’’

If all schools take a strong stance on in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour then the prob­lem will dis­ap­pear, Long says.

St Paul’s Col­lege prin­ci­pal Mark Rice says the school ac­tively pro­motes a mes­sage of re­spect to stu­dents, par­ents and sup­port­ers.

In the pro­gramme, the par­ents or guardians of ev­ery rugby-play­ing stu­dent must at­tend an ed­u­ca­tional evening about the roles of ground man­agers and the im­por­tance of pos­i­tive side­line sup­port.

Ahead of the start of the sea­son, De La Salle’s stu­dents and ref­er­ees took part in an in­ter­ac­tive event to build re­la­tion­ships be­tween of­fi­cials and play­ers and en­sure young play­ers have a clear un­der­stand­ing of the game’s rules.

McNeilage will now run a com­pul­sory as­so­ciate ref­er­ees course at the school for all coaches and man­agers.

Stu­dent lead­ers will also at­tend a three-day the­ory course and will then be re­quired to ref­eree at three tour­na­ments dur­ing the year to re­ceive 10 cred­its to­wards NCEA level 3.

‘‘It’s a win-win sce­nario. I am look­ing for­ward to see­ing some re­ally pos­i­tive re­sults from all of us work­ing to be part of the so­lu­tion rather than just deal­ing with the fall­out.’’

Photo: AN­DREW GOR­RIE

Clear mes­sage: The Auck­land Rugby Ref­er­ees As­so­ci­a­tion’s pro­gramme to tackle side­line abuse on school rugby fields could be rolled out across all cen­tral Auck­land schools.

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