WP referees go on strike over abuse
NEWS: Because of increased abuse, the Western Province Referees’ Society has, with regret, decided that it will not provide referees for club matches in the Western Province until such time as adequate steps are taken against those guilty of abuse, physical or verbal.
The chairman of the Society, Joey Klaaste-Salmans, and his executive are unanimous in agreeing to this course of action – or inaction – in the interests of the safety of the Society’s referees who provide referees for all club and some school matches throughout the Western Province.
Recent actions that led to this decision was the case of a referee’s being struck by a bottle thrown at him and the verbal abuse by the coach of Hands & Hearts RFC in respect of the refereeing of Nathan Swartz, one of the top referees in the province.
In neither case did the Western Province Rugby Football Union appear to take any action in this regard.
For referees, refereeing is a matter of enjoyment in serving a game that they love – as is the case with players. The great majority of players play for enjoyment, as is the case with referees. When it comes to abuse, there can be no enjoyment, and all the Society seems to seek is safety and the absence of abuse.
Already the effects of abuse is shown in the dwindling number of referees that the Western Province Referees’ Society has at its disposal.
In a letter to his members, Klaaste Salmans has said that because of abuse, the following will obtain:
“We are thus advising members that until further notice we will not be appointing referees to the WP club rugby competition.
“We have indicated to the union executive that we are open to an engagement but have requested demonstrable action on the concerns expressed.
“The decision to not appoint referees to matches was the last of all the options that we explored.
“It has become clear that the society and its members seem to be the only stakeholders serious about addressing the issue on referee abuse.
“We are aware that you are passionate and committed to refereeing and look forward to your runs on a Saturday but by not showing the seriousness of our concerns we are condoning the actions of clubs, spectators and players when they abuse our colleagues.
“We thus hope that you see the seriousness of our actions and also know that we have tried avoiding this action.”
The practicality of it means that there will be no referees for club matches on Wednesday and Saturday of this week and for the foreseeable future.
There is to be a meeting of the Union officials and the Referees’ officials on Thursday of this week.