The game's authorities are particularly concerned about rude words addressed to match officials by naughty club personnel and players. The stimulus is a case involving Stuart Farrar, Wakefield Trinity's chairman. Farrar admits making 'comments' to the Castleford referee Russell Smith after the match against Salford on 5 December, but points out they were made in the privacy of the dressing room. The League's board of directors fined Farrar pounds 100, suspended for 12 months, and - much worse - ordered him to apologise to the referee in writing.
Surely in such a rumbustious game an unkind word is inevitable? 'In sport,' the League press officer, David Howes, told Almanack, 'you get people bawling abuse at the officials - and we don't want to make them a protected species. Our officials spend more time with players and coaches than in any other sport. After a match in the bar, if people want to talk about a point of play with the referee, that's smashing. But what we are against is unprofessional, unproductive, one-sided abuse of a referee. Down the tunnel, in his room . . . where it serves no purpose whatsoever.'
The officials themselves share this stern attitude. Gerry Kershaw, president of the Grade One Referees' Association, said: 'We support the League wholeheartedly. As a schoolmaster, I see it like examination results. The thing goes in peaks and troughs.' It is easy to imagine Mr Kershaw, cane twitching, addressing a special assembly of club officials, summoned to discover The Coach Who Swore Behind The Referee's Back.
Kershaw sighs: 'It's always a minority that lets the side down.' And if the individual concerned does not own up, it's a spanking for everybody . . .Reuse content