Canberra refs to strike over abuse
Rugby league referees in Canberra's local competition have gone on strike, declaring they are fed up with copping abuse both on and off the park.
The referees voted on Tuesday night to boycott this weekend's final-round matches in the Canberra Raiders Cup, threatening to throw the end of the competition into disarray.
David Adams, chairman of the Canberra and District Rugby League Referees Association (CDRLRA), said referees were very concerned about club coaches making "unsavoury" comments about senior umpires in the local media.
"The regional league hadn't taken any action against these clubs for ... fighting their battles and airing their dirty linen in the public forum," Adams told AAP on Wednesday.
"One thing we won't tolerate here, or anywhere really, is the questioning of the integrity of our officials."
Adams said the final straw came when a 12-month ban, handed to a player for calling a referee a "cheat", was reduced to six weeks.
While referees accepted the call, it was the club's decision to "fight the battle further in the press" that raised the ire of local umpires.
"We were none too impressed about that," he said, adding that the league itself had dealt with complaints very thoroughly.
"We were of the opinion that despite the league's best efforts, nothing was working and the clubs weren't getting the message.
"So we decided to give them a very stark message."
Since the announcement of the strike, several clubs have come forward to express their support, as the league tries to broker a solution with the refs.
Canberra Region Rugby League executive officer Karen Ebsworth said she hoped the situation would be resolved in time for this weekend's matches to go ahead.
"I'm currently writing to the referees association and asking them to reconsider," she said.
"Our clubs sign an agreement when they enter our competition that they won't make negative comments in the media about the association or referees.
"We are trying and hoping that the message gets through but all you can do is keep trying."
Adams said the referees also wanted a resolution but "it would take a lot" to get them to return to the field.
"Hopefully, in the short timeframe we've got, we can sort something out," he said.Source: wwos.com.au top league stories