We recently received the below communication from Philip Lawlor (Head of the Rugby Department Leinster Rugby) around the treatment of referees. It is an important reminder that both home and away referees should be treated with the utmost respect at all times, by players, coaches, parents and spectators and at all levels of rugby from seniors to minis.
Can all clubs please highlight to all coaches and committee personnel both club and area at all levels but especially Mini and Youth (boys and girls) that abuse of referees by anyone associated with their team, club (players coaches managers parents spectators) is completely unacceptable and not in keeping in any way with the ethos of the game.
The slow creep of poor behaviour towards referees is completely unacceptable, respect towards referees has always been something we take pride in and distinguishes us from other sports.
Can your club at every opportunity articulate the message around good behaviour and highlight where evident poor behaviour to either the perpetrator if a coach or to the coach of a particular player or players who may transgress. If it is with the spectator then a club official must take action.
While we can all get frustrated at poor decisions, referees have noticed a change taking place towards them regarding respect and discipline both on and off the pitch and it is impacting on recruitment and retention.
The A.R.L.B are aware that improved quality will also have an impact and they are working towards that goal.
A copy of the Leinster Branch Code of Conduct can be found below:
Code for Players
- Play for enjoyment and become part of the rugby family.
- Respect the "Game of Rugby" and play within the laws of the Game.
- Accept the referee's decision and let your captain or coach ask any relevant questions.
- Play with control. Do not lose your temper.
- Always do your best and be committed to the game, your team and your club.
- Be a "good sport". Applaud all good play whether by your team or the
- Respect your opponent. Treat all players as you would like to be treated. Do not "bully" or take advantage of any player.
- Rugby is a team sport and make sure you co-operate with your coach;
teammates and members of your club.
- Remember that the goals of the game are to have fun, improve your skills and feel good.
- At the end of the match thank your opponents and the referee for the match.
- Always remember that you owe a duty of care to your opponents. Tackle hard but fairly, do not intend to hurt your opponent.
- Winning and losing is part of sport: Win with humility - lose with dignity.
- As part of the team it is important that you attend training regularly and listen to your coach and help your team.
- As a team sport it is important to understand that all members are important to the team!
- Remember you are representing your team, club, family and the Game of Rugby.
Code for Parents
- Remember, young people play rugby for their enjoyment, not only
- Encourage your child always to play by the Laws of the Game.
- Teach young children that honest endeavour is as important as
winning, so that the result of each game is accepted without
- Help young people to work towards skill improvement and good
- Set a good example by applauding good play on both sides.
- Never ridicule, humiliate or shout at young players for making a
mistake or losing a match.
- Do not place emphasis on winning at all costs.
- Do not force an unwilling child to participate in the playing of rugby. If
the child is to play, he/she will do so in good time through your
- Support all efforts to remove verbal and physical abuse from rugby.
- As a spectator do not use profane language or harass referees,
coaches or players.
- Do not publicly question the referees' judgement and never their
- Recognise the value and importance of volunteer referees and
- Identify and acknowledge the good qualities of the Game of Rugby and
uphold these values.
- Remember you and your child's contribution to the Game of Rugby is
very important to the IRFU and be proud of your contribution.
- Understand the value of team sport and the importance thereof.
Code for Coaches
- Lead by example - young people need a coach whom they respect.
- Be generous with your praise when it is deserved. Never ridicule or shout at players for making mistakes or losing a match.
- Teach your players that the Laws of the Game are mutual agreements which no one should evade or break.
- Ensure that all players participate in matches. The "average" players deserve equal time.
- Remember that young players play for fun and enjoyment and that skill learning and playing for fun have priority over highly structured competition. Winning is not the only objective.
- Develop player and team respect for the ability of opponents, as well as for the judgement of referees and opposing coaches.
- Insist on fair play and disciplined play. Do not tolerate foul play, fighting or foul language. Be prepared to take off an offending player.
- Create a safe and enjoyable environment in which to train and play.
- Do not over burden younger players with too much information.
- Be aware of the effect you have on growing children.
- Never criticise the referee or touch judges during or after a match in front of players or spectators.
- Always thank the match officials and if they have made decisions which require clarification, discuss the problems after everyone has changed.
- Seek and follow the advice of a doctor in determining when an injured player is ready to play again.
- Be responsible and ensure you uphold the ethos of the game and the IRFU.
- Support the Code of Ethics and all policies regarding Children in Sport.
- Ensure you and your players are proud of your team, club and efforts during the season.
- Remember that as a coach of an "age grade team" you are to act in "loco parentis" and to that extent your duty of care is more onerous than that of a coach to an adult team.
Code for Spectators
- Remember that although young people play organised rugby they are
not "miniature internationals".
- Be on your best behaviour and lead by example. Do not use profane
language or harass referees, players or coaches.
- Applaud good play by the visiting team as well as your own.
- Show respect for your team's opponents. Without them there would not
be a match.
- Condemn the use of violence in all forms at every opportunity.
- Verbal abuse of players or referees cannot be accepted in any shape of form.
- Players or referees are not fair targets for ignorant behaviour.
- Encourage young players to play by the Laws of the Game.
- Spectators can contribute to the enjoyment of the event and all
- Be proud of your club and the Game of Rugby.