THE Somerset Rugby Referees Society issued a message on social media this weekend discussing the difficulties faced by local referees.

In the message it made clear that of recent weeks there has been an increase in rude behaviour from fans, coaches and players towards referees.

The society said that whilst these reports fall short of match official abuse, it is not consistent with core values of the game of rugby and it may discourage people from volunteering their time to referee.

The message said: "We have been receiving reports from referees regarding spectator, coach and player behaviour which is making them feel uncomfortable and undervalued.

"The poor behaviour often starts with spectators and coaches and then causes a reaction from the players making them difficult to manage.

"This is not something that has happened at all clubs, but where it has occurred, it has resulted in referees refusing to referee at the clubs where they have experienced this behaviour.

"Which ultimately could result in fewer referees than games."

The list of types of behaviour reported include:

  • Questioning of every decision loudly,
  • Making derogatory comments about the referee's ability,
  • General hostility towards the referee,
  • General use of abusive language, and
  • Making comments to the referee in the clubhouse post match.

The Somerset Rugby Referees Society made clear that all their referees are volunteers and they do their best to allow the game to flow.

The statement ended with: "We are asking for your support in making sure that referees are respected by all members of your club and spectators."