The disappointment of a Citizens Shield semi final defeat is not the only bitter pill Athletic Marist Rugby Club has had to swallow recently. A player, club official and supporter have been hit with bans for verbally abusing a referee and match official.
One of the trio, Athies strapper Trevor James, has decided to close the door on his involvement with senior rugby after 60 years with Athletic Marist and Maheno because of the punishment.
James admitted to being critical of the referee but insisted the ban was too harsh and the standard of local refereeing must improve.
“I don’t mind helping Waitaki Boys’ or youngsters or anything like that but not the union,” he said.
“It’s ridiculous, (the ban will last) three weeks that ends next week (August 16) and then starts again from March 1 to April 26 next year.
“It’s a bit rough, the way the referees have been going, and the low standard – it’s not worth going to watch.
“Some of the decisions were a joke. Even the players and officials from the other club (Valley) were of the same thought.”
“After over 60 years of being involved at all levels and you cop that for telling the truth.”
Spectator Phil Winter has also received a ban along with second five-eighth Simi Fuluasou.
North Otago Rugby Union chief executive Colin Jackson said the union was disappointed in the behaviour of the three men and support for current and aspiring referees was imperative.
“The North Otago Rugby Union is extremely disappointed that two members of our referees association should be subjected to serious verbal abuse,” he said.
“There is no place for this behaviour and ultimately it reflects poorly on the three individuals found guilty.
“The message is simple: show respect, common decency and abide by the rules.
“The bottom line is that we need to unconditionally support our referees. We must strive to create an environment that encourages rugby players to see refereeing as a healthy alternative when their playing careers end.”
Athletic Marist Club president Mark Herron said the issue would be dealt with and he hoped to improve on this campaign next year.
“The Athletic Marist Rugby Club is working with their members in regards to verbal abuse of match officials,” he said.
“Although comments are made in the heat of the moment, players and team management need to understand that sometimes they will have to pay for their actions.
“We as a club will deal with these issues and move on to more promising results next year.”
By James Ford