There has been a lot of publicity recently about the RFU increasing punishments to crack down on an escalation in match official abuse that has been seen creeping into rugby over the past few years. I am pleased to say that Ilkeston RUFC has a good track record of taking the core values of our sport very seriously. It is something that can be seen in our coaches and subsequently in the behaviour of our players across all age groups of the club. However, this doesn't mean to say we should be complacent and the club committee would like to highlight what the recent directives from the RFU and NLD mean in practice. The NLD (Notts, Lincs & Derbys Rugby, the constituent body responsible for our rugby at a local level) have noted that even after introducing an aggravated tariff of 2 extra weeks to be applied to sanctions imposed by their disciplinary committee for instances of Match Official Abuse (MOA), they have noticed that the trend in MOA has increased again, both on pitch and more disappointingly, pitch side. There has been a marked increase in MOA by coaches, club officials and spectators/club members. The RFU report that MOA, particularly, is seen as instrumental to the increasing number of referees retiring from the game, in many cases solely as a result of the way in which they have been treated, abused and spoken to by players, spectators or club members.
The directive from the RFU now means that the NLD disciplinary panel will apply an additional 2 to 4 weeks extra to any sanctions they apply to players/clubs/coaches. In addition to this, action has also recently been taken against clubs where non-playing spectators and members have deemed to have been participating in MOA. One club had incidents at a colts game and now have a 10 point reduction to the club's 1st XV team (suspended and to be invoked applied if there is a repeat of this behaviour reported). Another club had a game abandoned and have had a 15 point reduction applied to their Senior 1st XV (this will be carried over and applied at the start of next season, because it was felt to apply it to the current season would have little to no effect due to their present position in the league).
Ilkeston RUFC would like to make it very clear to all players, coaches, supporters, parents, and anyone else attending our matches from the 1st XV to the U6s, any behaviour likely to be construed as Match Official Abuse will not be tolerated by the club. Everyone should understand that it has no place in our sport and any such behaviour could have serious consequences for the club as a whole.
Ilkeston RUFC welcome all match officials to our club, they are our guests and will be treated with the friendliness and the respect that they deserve. The club is grateful that these volunteers give up their free time for the good of the game we all love.
Chairman Ilkeston Rugby Club