Body cameras could be required to curb the levels of abuse referees are currently facing, particularly in the community game.
There have been a number of instances since the return to play post-pandemic of abuse.
State of Mind polled the respective St Helens and Huddersfield Referees Societies to ask if they thought body cameras would be a useful step.
There was a response rate just over 51%, of which 82% said they had received abuse while refereeing.
A total of 91% of the 33 respondents supported the use of body cameras, according to the research.
Another quality article from our friends at Rugby League.👇 https://t.co/CVlfdw5mAP
— Refsupportuk (@refsupportuk) February 28, 2022
Body cameras would make it easier to provide proof of the type of abuse referees receive, and be used to help train and develop referees.
A spokesperson said: “The abuse of match officials is routine and regular and not acceptable for anyone in sport.
“The feedback appears to provide a majority in support for the use or trial of the use of body cameras in the community game to be used as aid for referees in improving their game, to deter the amounts of abuse, provide evidence of abuse taking place and give an insight of how difficult it is to be a rugby league referee.
“Rugby league referees display super human skills every week. Their reward is a spectrum of abuse for everyone who benefits from watching or playing rugby league.
“Later this year we will be demonstrating a virtual reality experience for rugby league fans to try out to see how difficult it is to be a referee; and challenge the view that referees are to blame when teams lose.”
Context of abuse
Milford player Josh Nathaniel was banned sine die back in September for attacking a referee.
Huddersfield referees society pulled all of their young match officials for one weekend in protest at the abuse their members had been facing.
At the time, they tweeted: “We no longer feel that the league discipline will safeguard our officials when it comes to abuse, after recent findings from the discipline panel.”
Regular notices are being issued to community leagues and clubs regarding the treatment of officials.
The National Conference League has funded six head cameras to be trialled in matches from this weekend.
@OfficialNCL have funded 6 head cams to be trialled in matches from this weekend. This will certainly help the discipline panel when called upon, but also be used for referee and player development. Head cams necessarily follow the action and that should help identify offenders. https://t.co/jZtsIJWcx0
— Trevor Hunt (@TheTrevorHunt) March 1, 2022
Be a ref experience
A big project being worked on by State of Mind is a virtual referee experience.
This aims to give fans insight in to exactly what it’s like to be a referee.
Referee Marcus Griffiths wore a camera rig at the Super League clash between Salford and St Helens last year as part of the project.
It hopes to launch later this year.