SARU slams Eastern Cape club 'thugs'
REACTION: The Eastern Province Rugby Union’s spotty record took another battering in the wake of renewed reports of violence in club matches.
The South African Rugby Union on Wednesday slammed the behaviour of what they termed “hot-headed thugs” in the game.
SARU President Mark Alexander said club members who abuse or assault referees should expect to be banned from the game and action taken against their clubs.
The broadside, contained in a SARU media release, follows another ugly incident of club violence – with players getting into a physical scuffle and a referee being assaulted in a club game between Kowie United and Swallows RFC (Makhanda) in Port Alfred.
“Alexander said he would be writing to all 15 member unions of SARU, urging their disciplinary committees to take the strongest possible action against individuals and clubs under their authority who physically or verbally abused match officials or failed to adequately protect officials.
“These hot-headed thugs who physically assault officials have no place in the sport and should be banned for life from participating or attending,” Alexander said.
“We must protect our match officials – without whom there would be no sport – and the message must out go out in the strongest possible terms that such actions will not be tolerated.”
The recent incident follows after Jeffreys Bay club had all its home fixtures suspended, following an incident of violence in which three Port Elizabeth Harlequins players were stabbed and hospitalised.
“Attacks on referees are rare but when they occur provinces must not hesitate to act,” Alexander said.
“These attacks have been condemned by the relevant unions and I trust they will follow through by bringing these matters before disciplinary committees.
“I shall be repeating our message of ‘zero tolerance’ for such behaviour with our members.”
Alexander stressed that physical abuse of match officials is regarded as the most serious offence a player or official could commit.
That was reflected on World Rugby’s schedule of recommended sanctions.
The entry-level sanction for a player physically abusing a match official is 24 weeks, which rises to a life ban as the maximum sanction.
“There can be no sympathy or toleration of the assailants,” said Alexander.
“There is no reason at all why anyone involved should lay a hand on a match official.
“If it does not happen in the most pressured environment of Test rugby, why should it happen at a club match? It must be clamped down on most severely.”
Eastern Province Rugby Union President Maasdorp Cannon was not immediately available for comment, but after the March incident between Jeffreys Bay and Harlequins, he promised stern action.
“The safety of our athletes and supporting communities are of utmost importance,” Cannon said at the time, adding: “Besides the unfolding processes, all sub-committees are convened to discuss matters of risk and the elimination thereof moving forward.”