By Ron Wood
In a couple of earlier
Rogues Rants this year I spoke of problems in the IDRU in regard to Referee
numbers. I suggested that we should seek comment from Referees who have
recently given active Refereeing away to determine just why the decision to stand
down from active Refereeing was made. I have since had responses from the two
Referees referred to in Rant #312, Ethan McIntosh and Andrew Strode. There
responses are attached below.
Both Referees were
subjected to abuse during the 2021 season. One event at which I was actually present
was a particularly nasty example of the sort of thing that can and does too
often occur. Both Referees followed the Respect Rugby Process as advised to do
and submitted the appropriate paperwork to support their complaint. Both
Referees expressed their disappointment in the manner in which their complaints
were handled and the fact that there was no official follow up from the Respect
There surely is
something wrong with the system if the instigator of a Respect Rugby Report
does not get any feedback at the completion of the investigation process. This
must be corrected.
Both these young men
in my opinion could quite possibly return to active Refereeing if they could be
reassured that the process of dealing with the sort of abuse that they were
subjected to was dealt with in a more efficient and consistent manner.
Their letters make
for interesting reading and I’m sure that there would be other former Referees
who have similar experiences and opinions.
Letter from Ethan McIntosh
9th June 2022
I chose to sit out this season for a number of reasons and many of these
stemmed from a major incident of referee abuse at Campbelltown. While the
incident itself was particularly ugly, I felt more affected by the
circumstances around the follow up to the incident.
I felt let down by the manner in which the incident was handled by the
IDRU Board. I feel certain that if the investigation of the incident had been
handled by the IDRU Judiciary as normal, the outcome would have been quite
My own perception through last season was that, where incidents
occurred, they seemed to be swept under the rug as quickly as possible to avoid
It was frustrating to hear of other referee abuse cases through the
season where there was either inaction or weak punishments handed down. It
certainly didn’t make me feel supported by the district as a referee, instead
having to rely on my referee colleagues. It became very apparent that following
the Respect Rugby procedures as I had been instructed to do was a waste of time
and they weren’t worth the paper they were written on. There appeared to be no
follow up at all by NSW Rugby to ensure the IDRU was fulfilling their
responsibilities in this process.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t an easy decision to step away, nor one
that I took lightly. However, I felt that continuing to referee in such an
environment and ‘put up with it’ would do nothing to break the cycle.
Andrew Strode Letter
24th June 2022
Stepping away from refereeing was a tough choice but I
felt it was necessary to send the right message over ref abuse. I think it’s
important to state that I didn’t stop because of the abuse itself – that
doesn’t really worry me. I feel like I’m experienced enough to keep it in
concerned me and frustrated me was the inaction by the IDRU in using/following
the respect rugby process. In fact, here we are in the middle of 2022 and I
still haven’t been informed of the outcome of two of my reports from May and
June last year. That process is there to protect and support referees and to
have it so obviously disregarded is completely unacceptable.
Disappointingly, when I reached out to NSW Rugby to
intervene and asked them to provide support and counsel to the IDRU to ensure
that the process was followed, I did not receive a reply.
Ultimately, the difficult decision not to ref this year
was more about the young refs. They need to feel like they are supported by all
levels of the game and I saw too many examples last year where that just didn’t
happen. I figured if I went back without any changes, it would send the wrong
message. In not refereeing I guess I hoped that a strong message would be sent
that there are consequences to inaction.