Fines and Referee Protests Underline the Need for Strict Discipline in Rugby

Coleraine Rugby Club has been a club in the cold for breaching the strict discipline required in the sport of rugby. The club will only be too happy to pay the £5,000 imposed on them by the sport’s administrators in Ulster, if that atones the cold treatment they have been getting from referees in the months leading to October 2018.

Referees boycotted the Irish club’s home matches after a female referee, Grainne Crabtree, was targeted with sexist abuses during a match against Dromore in March 2018, towards the end of the 2017/18 season.

The incident caused a lot of back and forth, between the club and the referees’ body and rugby union, with the latter two sticking to their guns by insisting on an apology and that action be taken from within the club, against those culpable of the abuse.

The club eventually issued an apology to the referee, who once played for the City of Derry. The referees’ body accepted the apology but was not exactly amused by the absence of specific names in it. A fine of £5,000 was also slapped as a way of punishment to the club, as they prepared to play the same club (Dromore), in October 2018.

The incident points to the strictness with which rugby in Great Britain insists on discipline, both on and off the pitch. The boycott by referees is also quite telling. The acceptance of the apology is also a show that the is willing to recover and move forward from disputes that are bound to happen from time to time.

That said, Coleraine will still be a club under the microscope, as stakeholders wait to see how they deal with the issue internally. Their behaviour in future will also be of interest, and even the smallest of altercations could spark criticism.