Group 10 referees association president Bryce Hotham welcomes Tough Love in League policy

TOUGH LOVE: Bryce Hotham (centre) pictured with Willy Barnes, Adam Callaghan, Anthony Pond and Nathan Blanchard ahead of the 2017 Group 10 under 16s grand final. Photo: Group 10 Referee's Association
TOUGH LOVE: Bryce Hotham (centre) pictured with Willy Barnes, Adam Callaghan, Anthony Pond and Nathan Blanchard ahead of the 2017 Group 10 under 16s grand final. Photo: Group 10 Referee's Association

Harsher penalties for abusing match officials have been welcomed by the Group 10 referees, but president Bryce Hotham says they will have to wait and see if they actually make a difference.

NSWRL put out its 'Tough Love in League' policy last month which outlined the types of penalties players and clubs could receive for abusing officials.

For example, the lowest level of referee abuse, which Hotham said could be something like calling a referee "a cheat" would result in a minimum two game suspension and the loss of one competition point.

"The fact that there is harsher penalties for the abuse is something that stood out to me," Hotham said.

"Obviously we welcome that with open arms. We've been fighting for that for a few years now.

"It's very important and we've had a few issues the last few years here and Group 11 is in the same boat as us. We're losing referees hand over fist so we've got to protect them as much as we can."

The most serious referee abuse, which would likely include things like physical violence, would result in a minimum 12 match ban for the player and three the loss of three competition points.

But it isn't just the players who have to be on their best behaviour.

"I like the mention of the abuse from spectators, that's mainly where the issues lie because they feel like they're almost untouchable," Hotham added.

"I like the fact they're stamping that out and backing us referees in our complaints about that."

One of the examples mentioned by NSWRL include a spectator illegally entering the field of play would receive a minimum 12 month suspension from attending any rugby league activity plus the loss of competition points equal to a win.

Quite possibly the harshest of all penalties would be if a club failed to identify any offender that is related to their club. This penalty would see the offending team disqualified until the person was identified.

But those aren't the only changes to the coming season, with the obvious one being the merger of Group 10 and Group 11 to form the Peter McDonald Premiership.

Hotham said there were still some logistical issues such as referee appointments but believed the number one game would be given to the number one official regardless of locality.

"In an ideal world, the number one referee gets the number one game and I've spoken to guys in Group 11 who feel the same," Hotham said.

"If the game's number one and it's say for example Dubbo CYMS against Orange CYMS, then then number one referee should get that game. Obviously there's a lot to work out with travel and that.

"It's going to be different, but we welcome the new change and I can't see too many issues."

This story Tougher penalties for those who abuse referees welcomed by president first appeared on Central Western Daily.