The Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League’s ‘Tough Love in League’ policy has seen eight players suspended and one young man fined and out for 19 weeks.
The suspensions come after the judiciary handed down their findings as a result of a recent brawl that broke out at Les Donnelly Field in Mullumbimby in the under-18 Mullum Giants versus Kyogle Turkeys match.
The game between the Turkeys and Giants was shut down about 10 minutes into the second half following a brawl that was sparked by a Kyogle player being sent to the showers. Players from both teams produced their fists and under the new Tough Love rules, the game was abandoned by the referees.
‘The Kyogle player that was sent from the field was handed a two-week suspension,’ says NRRRL president Brian Rix. ‘Four more players from Kyogle and three players from Mullumbimby were also cited, and in the early assessment process all received two-week suspensions.’
The Tough Love In League policy was introduced by New South Wales Rugby League two years ago. The aim of the policy is to reduce the amount of violence in the grassroots game; to take pressure off young and inexperienced referees and match officials; and to make the Junior League experience safe, fair and fun for everyone.
The NRRRL hope the new rules will reduce on-field violence and eliminate unsavoury behaviour towards referees and stop ‘all-in’ melees, and it was this rule that saw the under-18s game stopped.
Punching in under-18s is an automatic send-off and suspension under the bylaws; this rule was enforced and the Kyogle player was asked to leave the field. The brawl that followed saw the referees abandon the game and the judiciary followed through on the Tough Love promise.
The NRRRL want to send a clear message: violence in the game will not be tolerated. ‘A couple of weeks ago a Casino under-18 player received a 19-week suspension and a $500 fine,’ said Rix. ‘The Judiciary are taking any bad behaviour towards any officials very seriously and handing down substantial penalties.’
The contents of the Tough Love in League policy can be viewed at: http://admin.nrl.sportal.net.au/site/_content/document/00001836-source.pdf.