Referee Abuse

The ACTJRU supports the ACT Rugby Referees Associations (ACTRRA) ZERO tolerance to Referee Abuse

Whether it be Referee abuse, player abuse or anyone else, the ACTJRU will not condone any forms of abuse near our game. The ACTJRU, its representatives and members and the ACTRRA, will follow the due process to ensure the safety of everyone how supports our game. This may go to the full extent and notify the police to assist.

ACTJRU Rugby Code of Conduct

The ACTJRU have adopted the following Code of Conduct for all players, officials, parents and supporters. The code is derived from the RugbyAU Code of Ethics and the Australian Sports Commission.

The Code is designed with the following in mind:

The game is played for the enjoyment of players with sportsmanship emphasised at all times.

To improve our physical fitness and encouraging participation and camaraderie in Rugby by making it attractive, safe and enjoyable for all people.

To remind administrators, coaches, referees that rugby must be administered, taught and provided for the good of all who wish to play the game. It is their game.

Rugby provides the opportunity to meet new people and establish life long friendships.

Basic skills and the laws of Rugby shall be imparted to all.


Play for the enjoyment.

You will be encouraged to play hard and strive to win within the laws of the game

Work equally hard for yourself and your team – thus your teams` performance will benefit as well as your own.

When you commit yourself to a team for the season, honour that commitment. Attend all training sessions and games each week for the whole of the season.

Treat all other players, as you yourself would wish to be treated.

You will play by the rules, never argue with an official, referee or other players. Let the coach or manager sort out any problems.

You must cooperate with coaches, team mates and opponents. Without them you do not have a game.

Players shall take pride and enjoy participating in sport.

Learn to win with grace and lose with dignity. Be modest in success and appreciate your opponents’ performance, even when defeated.

At the conclusion of the game, the opponents are to be thanked for the game as should the referee and officials who have made the game possible.


Show respect for your own team`s opponents. Without them there would be no game.

Condemn the use of violence in all forms.

Respect the referee`s decisions. If there is any concern about a referee`s decision or any other aspect of the game, it should be raised with your child`s coach. Under no circumstances is the official`s honesty or judgement to be questioned in public.

ACTJRU Code of Conduct states:

A member, coach or official shall not at any time act in a manner detrimental towards the game or the spirit of Rugby Union.

All clubs must take reasonable steps to ensure that Club players, officials, and supporters do not act in a manner detrimental towards the game or the spirit of Rugby Union.

During the course of, or after a match a club member, player, coach, official, supporter or any other person associated with a Rugby Union Club or School, shall not abuse or address a referee or a touch judge in insulting terms, or act in an intimidating manner towards a referee or a touch judge.

Reporting responsibilities:
On field – the referee should deal with incidents of abuse by players within the playing enclosure as required by law (generally Law 9 – foul play). If a red card is issued, the referee is required to submit a send-off report to the competition organiser.
Off field – the home ground marshal has primary responsibility to submit an electronic incident report as described below. This does not prevent other people that witnessed the incident from also submitting reports (e.g. referee or away ground marshal).
Incident reports are submitted online. Child protection and sexual harassment incidents are only visible to the ACTJRU MPIO and RA Integrity Team. 
Actions to be taken on receipt of the report.
Initial responsibility for dealing with an incident rests with the club, school or Referee Association of the offender, particularly for low-level incidents. Where this management is ineffective and the abusive behaviour continues, or where the offence is more serious (mid-range or high level), the competition organiser may decide to cite the person(s) named to appear before a Judiciary or Code of Conduct Committee.
Australian Rugby is committed to providing a safe environment, which is free from harassment and abuse for everyone, and promotes respectful and positive behaviour and values.
Definition of harassment.
“Harassment means any type of behaviour that the other person does not want and does not return and that is offensive, abusive, belittling or threatening. The behaviour is unwelcome and of a type that a reasonable person would recognise as being unwelcome and likely to cause the recipient to feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.”
Definition of abuse.
“Abuse is a form of Harassment and includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and abuse of power. Examples of abusive behaviour include bullying, humiliation, verbal abuse and insults.”
The RA Code of Conduct and Member Protection Policy aims to ensure the Rugby’s core values, good reputation and positive behaviours and attitudes are maintained, and ensures every person involved in rugby is treated with respect and dignity, and is safe and protected from abuse. All participants in the game are bound to the RA Code of Conduct. Club Officials, Coaches and Match Officials have particular responsibilities to ensure that behavioural expectations are set and maintained for other participants in the game, including players, parents and spectators. Where Ground Marshals are appointed, they are normally delegated responsibility for managing behaviour outside the playing enclosure on game day.
Actions by the Ground Marshal on identifying an incident of harassment or abuse.
The Ground Marshal’s job description is described in a separate document, and governed by the competition rules of each competition organiser. In general, each team is required to provide a Ground Marshal, and these two people should work together to ensure that the playing enclosure and surrounds are kept safe, maintained in accordance with the competition rules, and that breaches of the code of conduct are dealt with. If the Ground Marshal witnesses or has reported to him or her (including by the referee) an incident of abuse, then he or she has a responsibility to deal with it. This includes:
  1. Ascertaining the facts of the situation, including identification of the abuser(s), and the seriousness of the abuse.
  2. Dealing with the abuse, in partnership with the other Ground Marshal. Options include:
    1. Issuing a warning to the abuser. 
    2. Seeking assistance from club officials to manage the behaviour. 
    3. Requesting that the abuser leave the facility. 
    4. Calling the police.
  3. If the Ground Marshal is unable to deal with an incident, and he or she believes that it will impact on the safe conduct of the match, he or she must bring it to the attention of the match Referee. This should be done at the next stoppage of play, and through the Assistant Referee where one is appointed.
  4. If the circumstances warrant it, the Ground Marshal should arrange for the referee to be escorted from the field of play at the end of the match to ensure no further incidents occur.
  5. After the incident, the home team Ground Marshal is required to submit an online incident report. The process for this is described below.
Actions by the Referee on identifying an off-field incident of harassment or abuse which impacts on the game.
The referee is to draw the attention of the Ground Marshal to any off-field behaviour which is impacting on the game. This could be done in a number of ways, with the most urgent solution being to stop the game and call the Ground Marshal(s) onto the field to brief them. This could be done by the referee using their whistle and voice to attract the Ground Marshal’s attention. The intent of using the Ground Marshal is to make a statement to all participants that the level of abuse is now unacceptable. By moving the referee to the centre of the field it draws him or her away from the cause of the abuse, rather than getting him or her involved in dealing with off-field issues.
Examples of incidents which could be impacting on the game are:
  • The abuse is increasing the likelihood of foul play;
  • The abuse is affecting decision making; and
  • The match officials feel threatened.
On identifying that the abuse has taken place, the referee may brief the Ground Marshal at the next stoppage or, if urgent, stop play immediately. If the abuse occurs before the match, the referee must not commence the game until the steps 2-3 below have been completed. If the abuse occurs after the game the procedure below at step 2 is to be followed and the referee completes an incident report as detailed below.
During a match when the referee has stopped play because of abuse from the sideline, he is to do
the following:
  1. Move at least past the 15m line, and preferably the centre of the field.
  2. Call the Ground Marshals to him.
  3. The referee describes the abuse to the Ground Marshals and requests that they take whatever action necessary to ensure the abuse ceases.
  4. The referee restarts the match once the Ground Marshals move to deal with the cause of the abuse. This draws the attention of the crowd back to the game, rather than focusing on the cause of the abuse.
  5. If the abuse continues and the referee believes that it would be dangerous to continue the game, the referee should again stop play, move to the centre of the field. At this point he should call over both Ground Marshals and team Captains and advise that the match is abandoned (Law 5.10).
After abuse has occurred a referee must submit an incident report using the online report. Details of how to access this follow immediately after this. Should he not have access to the tool, he is to call ACTRRA or the ACTJRU Secretary.
Incident Report content and link.
The incident report is to be written in a narrative form. Where such information can be obtained the
report should include:
  • The identity or, where an identity is uncertain, a description of the abuser.
  • A description of what happened, with particular detail as to what was actually said or done by the abuser. The description of the actual words used is pivotal in determining the level of abuse at a subsequent hearing.
  • Where the abuse occurred.
  • When the abuse occurred.
The report is submitted using this link. This can be accessed on any web browser, including on a mobile phone.
Actions to be taken by the Competition Manager.
On receipt of an Incident Report, the Competition Manager is to assess the report as to the severity of the behaviour reported. Low level and repeated low level are to be referred to the club or clubs involved for action as appropriate (Warning and/or Counselling). All other reports are be referred either to the Competition Citing Officer or direct to the Competition Judiciary for resolution. Please see the flow charts attached below.
The Competition Manager is to report back to the Report Author and to ACT Rugby the resolution and action taken in respect of the incident within two weeks of its receipt. If the issue is not resolved within this period, the Competition Manager is to report the progress of the investigation as above every two weeks until the incident is resolved.