After tirades of abuse from the stands over the last few months, referee’s in the South African city of Port Elizabeth have decided to down their whistles in protest, causing a raft of game cancellations for this weekend’s hitherto scheduled fixtures.
In some cases, referee’s have reported physical abuse, including some officials having their car tyres slashed and being spat at.
While he doesn’t necessarily agree with the referees course of action, the Eastern Province Rugby Union President, Cheeky Watson says that the Union will unequivocally support it’s referee’s.
”While we do not condone the method in which the referees dealt with the issue – as we have protocols in place to deal with such matters – following discussions held with representatives from the referees we have decided to cancel all games this coming weekend in sympathy with their concerns.
“We as a union feel that this is simply unacceptable and will not condone this type of behaviour in any form whatsoever.
”We have already notified the clubs that all games for this coming weekend have been cancelled and have called on the clubs to address the issue of the abuse towards referees as a matter of urgency.
“We have also made it clear that, going forward, any club that fails to address this matter will face the harshest of actions which the union can impose.”
Intimidating and threatening referee’s is contrary to the ethos and spirit of Rugby and, in our opinion, anyone who is found guilty of such offences deserves a lifetime ban from all Rugby related activities.