Has respect for the referee & officials hit an all-time low?

James Tamou referee

It feels as though this season, we are seeing respect for the referee and officials get lower and lower. And some of it is spilling onto the pitch too.

Only on Saturday, Wests Tigers forward James Tamou gave away a penalty for dissent in the closing stages of their defeat to Sydney Roosters.

However, he then called referee Ben Cummings “incompetent”, which was picked up by Cummings’ microphone along with an expletive. This upgraded his punishment, and he was sent off.

Tamou was remorseful after the match, telling reporters afterwards: “I apologise for my actions towards Ben Cummins. They [match officials] do a terrific job.

“I will wear any criticism; I will be accountable for my actions. Obviously, the actions aren’t acceptable towards the jersey, the club, the players, who are trying their backsides off. I probably took the easy way out instead of shaking their hand and looking them in the eye.

“I have got to wear that now and wear the criticism, I have got four kids at home and that is how they see their dad act. I’ve let everyone down, I’ve let myself down. I am embarrassed. I have let a lot of people down.”

Tamou may well have played his last game of the season, and is currently off-contract for the 2023 season.

Brandon Smith also banned for actions towards officials

Earlier this year, Melbourne hooker Brandon Smith was given a three-match suspension for a similar offence.

He pleaded guilty to calling referee Adam Gee a ‘cheating b*****d’ during the Storm’s defeat to Cronulla Sharks back in April.

Smith himself said during the hearing: “I’m not here to argue I’ve done the wrong thing. I just want to let everyone know I feel terrible and I’ll accept any consequence you come up with. I know I’ve done the wrong thing.”

READ MOREMelbourne Storm: Brandon Smith suspended for referee abuse

Is social media part of the problem?

In the UK, there has been one similar incident. Leeds centre Harry Newman was given a two-game ban, increased to three following an appeal for using aggressive language towards referee Tom Grant during their defeat at St Helens.

The Rhinos tried to appeal the decision twice, but without success.

Meanwhile, if you look on social media, there is never one game where at least one decision from the referee isn’t questioned by someone.

Particularly when it comes to cards this season. There has been a crackdown on certain types of tackle this season, and not all of it has been met with enthusiasm by parts of the rugby league fan base.

At least once a week, you get a series of tweets saying “the game has gone” or words to that effect, because of a certain decision.

This is where I feel a little sorry for the referees this season. All they are doing is applying the laws of the game. No referee ever goes into a game with an agenda, or wanting to penalise one team more than another. They are only refereeing what is in front of them.

The question is constantly asked, “who would be a ref?” And sometimes it is hard to answer that question when you see what referees have to put up with.

READ MORE: Stop handling injured opposition and stop trying to milk extra penalties: Referee’s call to players

About Steven Hughes 454 Articles
Love Rugby League writer.


  1. Without the laws of the game,players will get seriously injuried. We don’t want our game turning into football where the refs are targeted by players and supporters

  2. The referees should stop talking to players using first names, they aren’t there to be friends. They coach players, constantly telling some they are offside or other such comments. They aren’t there for that. Certain people gob off at referees constantly. They try to influence decisions and are basically trying to cheat.
    Refs should just turn round, get a card out and send em off.
    The only people who should speak with the ref are the captain’s and then only a case of yes sir, no sir.
    They need to earn back the respect they have lost through being pally with players.
    Get a grip, stop the favouritism and, drop some of these new, stupid rules. Especially the six again. It’s abused and used unfairly in a lot of situations.

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