Schools blow whistle on sideline louts
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.’’
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.