The Junior Football League has introduced new rules to send off any player under the age of six who swears on the field.
Crackdown on swearing in Junior League
When Broncos superstar Reece Walsh was banned for three games for his explosive tackle on referee Chris Butler, it marked the start of a paradigmatic rule change for a major junior league nursery.
The Cronulla Junior Rugby League (CJRL) has mandated an unprecedented rule which came into force across the shire this weekend which will see any player who swears at an official be sin-binned or sent off from the under-6s.
It follows the NRL’s growing number of fines and bans on role model senior players for swearing at match day officials.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo (pictured) has fully backed a crackdown on swearing at junior rugby league level in the Cronulla Association.
Even children under the age of 6 who swear at an official will be penalized or wander off the field.
Brisbane Bronco Reece Walsh has a huge fan base and a reckless respect for officialdom after he recently unleashed a savage verbal tirade at a ref that cost him three matches.
NRL boss Andrew Abdo fully supports the Shire Association’s move and hopes it will spread to all junior rugby league jurisdictions.
‘The initiative should be applauded,’ Abdo told News Corporation.
‘Our aim should always be to create a respectful, inclusive and enjoyable experience for our participants. This includes players, referees, officials, volunteers and supporters.
‘Offensive behavior of any nature is incompatible with the values of the game and should not be tolerated.’
Walsh is currently serving a suspension after being found guilty of blotting his own copybook on a contrary conduct charge for shouting, surprisingly: ‘What do you mean, c***’ to the Titans last month after giving away a penalty following the Broncos’ loss.
Players like Walsh have a huge fan base among young players, who then emulate much of their work; Hence the NRL’s stamping of oath on CJRL’s supporting officials is seen by many as a very important step.
As virulent as his outbursts have been, they haven’t been isolated in recent months. Canterbury’s now-retired icon, Josh Reynolds (known as Grub) was fined $1,000 by the NRL after shouting ‘bull**t’ at referee Grant Atkins during a match against St George-Illawarra.
Likewise referee Ben Cummins sent James Tamo to the bin instead of policing him for swearing which led to his dismissal.
Back when he was with the Melbourne Storm, Brandon Smith was suspended for three matches by the NRL for calling referee Adam Gee ‘a cheating bastard’.
The Tigers’ enforcer and then-captain, prop James Tamau, was also suspended for one match after shouting at referee Ben Cummins, ‘You’re unfit.’
The junior crackdown is the brainchild of CJRL general manager Chris Bannerman, who earlier this week announced the controversial move at every club within the association, noting that swearing had reached intolerable levels.
The new rules include immediate fouls and send-offs for players over the age of 12 who are heard swearing at a match official. Bannerman has sent an official email to all clubs in the shire.
Children are now being taught never to swear at officials in the Cronulla Junior Rugby League region and the NRL hopes the move will trickle down to other junior nurseries.
‘In recent weeks referees, ground managers, CJRL board members and spectators at many venues have noticed that loud swearing from players and the interchange bench has reached a point where it can no longer be tolerated, if we can. Create a welcoming environment for people of all ages to come and support family members on match days,’ the email read.
‘Swearing and dissent directed at match officials may result in offending players being sin-binned and penalized by their team (as a minimum penalty) while more serious instances may result in dismissal.
‘Any incident of swearing from the interchange bench will also be dealt with.
‘For competitions up to the age of 12, any incident of swearing may result in players being sent off at the discretion of the referee, who will ensure that the ground manager is fully aware that the player will not return to play.’
It is anticipated that other junior associations will follow suit.