‘Kill them’: sideline abuse at rugby

Players and officials at a Greerton-Rangataua intermediate-age match were subjected to sideline abuse on Saturday. File photo.

Encouraging players to ‘kill' the other team is just one example of the sideline abuse at a kids' rugby match over the weekend.

The atmosphere at an intermediate-age game between Greerton and Rangataua was soured on Saturday when two adult supporters began yelling abuse.

A woman contacted SunLive the following day, disgusted at the behaviour she witnessed.

“They were swearing and saying ‘run into the ref and smash him, he's a redneck', even though their side was winning,” she says.

“These men were also telling their players to ‘kill' the other team.”

When other parents and supporters tried to intervene, reminding the men that it was ‘just a game', they were told to ‘f*** off'.

Bay of Plenty Rugby referee manager Pat Rae says they have received a complaint about the behaviour of some supporters from the game.

“That has been forwarded to our complaints review officer, who has deemed it necessary for a disciplinary hearing.”

However, he says there has been a marked decrease in referee abuse in the past year, with complaints down by 50 per cent.

“Bad behaviour has been a problem in the past, but some of the strategies we implemented last year have really reduced referee abuse and improved sideline behaviour.”

These include keeping spectators five metres further back from the field, and ‘technical zones' – areas on each 10m line where coaches, managers, physios, and reserves are confined for the game.

“That stops coaches from roaming up and down the sideline to shout instructions at their players, which sometimes turned into abuse at the referee when calls didn't go their way.”

In May, there were four referee abuse complaints, and in June there were seven.

“But we're still way down on last year.”

For Pat, one of the biggest problems with sideline abuse is the effect it has on the volunteer refs.

“One of my roles is recruiting new referees, which is made easier by tidying up sideline behaviour. I've managed to recruit between 35 and 40 new refs a year, but we can't hang onto them. They get sick of being abused.

“So if we can eliminate this abuse, it will make it easier to retain refs.”

For more information on correct participant behaviour, or to report poor behaviour, visit www.boprugby.co.nz/community-rugby/positive-rugby-environment


Can I just point out this happens in ALL

Posted on 15-07-2017 14:44 | By NotNat

Sport - NZers do play other sport - not just rugby - its not a rugby culture at all. Netball - Hockey - Basketball - Softball - Soccer - I play ALL of these sports and even in the adult league there is always one supporter or one player with the idea that it is war not sport.

Who is responsible for....

Posted on 15-07-2017 14:42 | By NotNat

The words I speak...Me, the things I think...Me, the role model I am...Me. Who is responsible for making decisions in my life - Not the ref, not the coach, not the club but ME - Refs, club officials, children, other parents, NO-ONE should need to step in to make other ADULTS behave themselves...

Got it

Posted on 14-07-2017 12:00 | By Minib

It is pretty obvious by your last say on this matter the you are or have been a Scout Master taking little boys into the bush i really dont see what this has to do with sport.Your are a bit of a worry.

@Sport is great

Posted on 05-07-2017 21:06 | By Papamoaner

Depends on your definition of sport. All those attributes you mention are got by taking groups of kids into the hills without encumbering them with that awful socially destructive philosophy of "WINNERS AND LOSERS" It's amazing to see kids eyes light up with sheer pleasure when they cook their own food over an open fire after a life thus far of boring unimaginative ball games and silly rules. You can almost see their brains growing and their intellect increasing, as if they have been unshackled and set free. It is hugely satisfying for everyone involved, not just the kids.

Sport is great

Posted on 05-07-2017 14:53 | By Man about the house

As an ex ref and a human, sport is one of the best things for our kids, last thing we want is even more reason for them to be sitting behind screen of some sort. it's great for there souls, teaches them the benefits of team work and the reward for their efforts. Having a few bad eggs around doesn't make the sport bad, why do people always blame the event when it's just ignorant people, if we stopped everything that had an abusive people turn up, at we would wouldn't be doing anything.

run and tell sunlive

Posted on 05-07-2017 08:35 | By watacrock

like a little kid telling on someone for not sharing. why didnt you just tell the abusers? i would have. not run and tell the press so everyone here can come up with ridiculous comments and achieve nothing.


Posted on 04-07-2017 16:11 | By CC8

i did mean Yellow card the abusers, not the player in the first instance...with the warning that if a red card is issued it is for both player and abuser... if that abuser happens to be the coach or team official, then game over and the other team wins. ...easy

A Solution

Posted on 04-07-2017 15:44 | By penguin

To put the responsibility back on to the thuggish parents'/spectators' behaviour, simply abandon the game so that there is no result.


Posted on 04-07-2017 15:43 | By maildrop

New Zealand culture in a nutshell. And some wonder why domestic abuse, child abuse and violent crime is so high.


Posted on 04-07-2017 14:29 | By CC8

It's really simple actually. Everybody has a video camera these days....but more to the point the ref just needs to stop the game and ask the abuser who he is supporting and if he/she won't say then ask the players players "Who owns the bully over there on the sideline"? ... OK Yellow card...Game carries on.Next time (and with video support) RED CARD the parent/abuser and the associated player...ban the abuser from ALL fixtures for 1 year and let the player back on the field for the following game. One yellow card for an abuser per season...and then they must stay at least 10 meters back from the sideline. Job done. It will be easily self policing, the clubs, players and other parents /supporters will soon stop the bullies.

The clue is in the name

Posted on 04-07-2017 13:19 | By CC8

It's Thugby, by name and by nature , and no matter how the want to sugar coat it it is not played by gentlemen . At every level it is a bullies game. The IRU bullies the NZRFU , the NZRFU bullies the players and the unions, the (professional ) players and their managers/representatives bully the RFU . Seniors bully the juniors , parents bully the refs and the kids...and other people who try to calm them down by this account.Even schools get into it , both in so called sports scholarships and in my experience the teachers/coaches of the rugby teams bully the players and also deride and bully other students who don't subscribe to the thugby mentality.Aggressive fans push and shove for tickets, parking spaces and indeed to get through the gates into the games....it is Thugby, a great game for Bullies.


Posted on 04-07-2017 13:13 | By sangrae

It is not only Rugby games this happens,have been to Ferguson park for soccer and seen and heard the same thing happening is it not about time club officials stepped in to control the abuse?

No surprises here

Posted on 04-07-2017 11:11 | By Papamoaner

Rugby, originally a pastime invented to relieve boredom, is now the cause of it to some of us. Once a sport played by enthusiasts, it is now a dog-eat-dog industry where players can earn huge amounts of money donated by the "voyeurs of winners and losers" flocking together in enormous crowds, urging each other on in near mass hysteria. That's my tuppence worth. I'm out of here - Time to dig my trench and don the hard hat and earmuffs for incoming mortar fire.

People are passionate...

Posted on 04-07-2017 10:17 | By morepork

...about Sport and it gets out of proportion. It isn't REALLY Sport, it is just about winning. It's bad enough that volunteer refs get abused, but the worst thing is the effect all this has on the PLAYERS. What kind of message is it sending to our kids? Win at all costs? Really bad behaviour is acceptable as long as you WIN? Of course winning is important in any sport and we want to inspire our kids to strive to their utmost, but the end doesn't justify the means and winning badly is not really winning. I'd hate to see the necessity for a police presence at Saturday sports, but unless some of the parents can adjust their attitudes, it may have to happen. Winning a match is not bigger than participating in the sport itself. If you can't see that, you shouldn't be playing.


Posted on 04-07-2017 09:14 | By NZer

When the national team and other teams do agressive hakas that show a throat slitting gesture on live tv under the guise of culture what do you really expect?

Been happening for years

Posted on 04-07-2017 08:11 | By nerak

About 25 years ago, a coach was heard telling his kids to imagine the opposition were like a soft kiwifruit, 'hold it in your hands, squash it until it drips between your fingers'. Said with a menacing tone. Nothing, or little, has changed. There are always going to be adults who can't help themselves, and susceptible kids who think coach's words sound great. Or adults who yell from the side with offers of $10 per goal, heard more than once during a few games. No wonder it's hard to get and keep refs.

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