The shocking level of abuse of Welsh rugby match officials and referees by players, spectators, coaches and club officials has been revealed.

As of 25 January 2023, a total of 46 incidents of misconduct towards referees this season have passed through the Welsh Rugby Union’s disciplinary system. This includes 14 incidents in children’s or youth matches. The cumulative ban for the 46 incidents is 17 years, one month and three weeks.

The issue of off-field conduct by players and staff towards referees was raised at a recent mid-county rugby meeting, where it was said that three incidents would be dealt with through the court system. It is known that this season the number of incidents has doubled compared to the previous one.

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The Welsh Rugby Union says it is encouraging clubs to take a zero-tolerance approach to referee abuse.

Of the 123 senior red card offenses that went through the sanctioning process this season, 15 were related to player behavior towards referees: disrespect, verbal abuse or abuse. Sanctions range from a one-week ban to an unprecedented 192-week ban for Fairwater RFC player Louis Jones, which you can learn more about here. 15 players received cumulative suspensions of four years, 10 months and three weeks.

Of the 18 cases of misconduct that have already been officially handled this season, 17 involved officials, including two verbally abusing and threatening an official. The Girling RFC manager was banned from rugby for two years and the Pontllanfraith RFC player was banned for 68 weeks or 15 months.

A dozen more verbal insults were recorded, in addition to three more cases of disrespect to the referee of the match. The 17 incidents resulted in seven years and nine months blanket bans and full season bans, as well as a £500 fine, a £250 suspended fine and an official reprimand.

Of the 14 misconduct violations handled so far this season, nine involved verbal abuse of officials and five involved disrespect. An incident of verbal abuse by a match official resulted in a Baglan Youth RFC club official receiving a 12-month suspension on the day of the match, while a full summary suspension for age-related misconduct offenses involving referees for the remainder of the season is equal to the disqualification on the day of the game. four and a half years. Sanctions also included formal reprimands, disciplinary sanctions, and conditional financial sanctions and suspensions.

A WRU spokesperson said: “Recruiting and retaining referees is vital to the development and growth of the game. We cannot and will not soften our approach to this type of behavior.

“We are working with our clubs to eradicate abusive behavior towards referees in our game. The last level and type of sanctions applied by disciplinary boards are pecuniary sanctions and long periods of suspension.

“The WRU Disciplinary Committee has given freedom to disciplinary committees to further increase sanctions related to official misconduct and impose increased and/or additional sanctions to reinforce and enforce the message that abusive behavior towards officials will not be tolerated. We encourage clubs to take a zero-tolerance approach to these issues.”

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