Mailbox: Rugby league has become too toxic

Mailbox gives you the chance to get your voice heard and start the debate with the rugby league audience. Want to be featured? Email the editor: [email protected]

Dear James,

I have been born and raised playing rugby league ever since I was a young lad. I remember the days of watching Andy Farrell power through at the JJB stadium. However, the sport today has lost almost all of its respect.

The fans lack the knowledge that it’s difficult for referees to get every decision right. It’s easy for us to complain because we’re watching it on tv or in the crowds where we almost have a birds eye view of what is going on in the game. However, for the referees, they are smack in the middle of action where they continually have to make sure the play of the ball is being played correctly as well as making sure all 13 men are onside. Then on top of that, they have to try and witness if there is any foul play in the tackle. It is an extremely difficult job and a job that they don’t get enough respect for. The fans are bad enough because if they were that knowledgable about rugby then why aren’t they playing the sport professionally.

Nevertheless, I get it can be frustrating that if a decision doesn’t go your way it could impact the game negatively, but the managers and coaches need to be able to refrain from themselves because they should know better than anyone the scrutiny that they are put under if they or the team makes a mistake In the game. I feel like coaches should look at it from their own perspectives and understand and appreciate that to officiate a game is extremely difficult and ultimately can destroy someone’s mental health with fans screaming “the referee’s a w*nker” and then post game, having to listen to the fans threaten them and their family. If this is to continue nobody will want to officiate the great game of rugby league and it will lead to its demise.

If people truly loved the sport, they should acknowledge how difficult it is to make the right decision every time. After all, every single one of us have had to make a decision based on what they thought was the right thing to do but turned out to back fire. No referee wants to officiate a game to make mistakes and ultimately have their family and themselves attacked.

People need to be aware that this could be effecting their mental health and if a official does decide to commit suicide due to these threats, this is not the referee’s problem but every single fan and manager who have sought out to damage an officials reputation on the field.

Jordan Beck

Editor’s comment: Having had the privilege of doing some work with former Super League referee Ian Smith in his role with State of Mind, it provided some stark insight in to the life of a referee. Getting abused from the stands, abused as you walk to the car, abused on social media. These are human beings too. Clearly there are a number of issues in rugby league, and officiating is right up there – with no referees, there’s no game. Simple as that. The current environment is not one that would attract new referees to the sport.

Mailbox gives you the chance to get your voice heard and start the debate with the rugby league audience. Want to be featured? Email the editor: [email protected]

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