Aggressive spectators sour junior rugby league

Bulldogs forward David Klemmer is an ambassador for the ‘Let Them Play’ campaign

For those who have been keeping up with our blogs, you’re already aware of the extent to which violence is becoming a rampant issue in the junior rugby league community. The purpose of Winners Aren’t Binners isn’t merely to highlight the issue of violence in rugby league, but instead to be proactive about erasing its violent streak.

We feel there is real change that can be made within rugby league in the near future – rugby league is a beautiful game, but like many things, it ugly parts.

While it is often overlooked, spectators can play a significant role in inspiring on-field violence and causing anxiety in junior football players.

Clearly we’re not the only ones who feel strongly about this issue, NSWRL earlier this year unveiled its ‘It’s Just A Game’ campaign which vowed to take a stand against unsportsmanlike behaviour in junior rugby league.

A number of key figures have since become ambassadors for the cause, including:

  • Laurie Daley – NSW Blues coach
  • Steve Roach – former NSW & Australia representative and famed rugby league hard man
  • Anthony Minichiello – former Sydney Roosters captain
  • Ryan Hoffman – New Zealand Warriors captain

Role models in the rugby league community are coming together to take back the spirit of the game in junior football. Rugby league’s traditional image of ‘toughness’ has been warped into an image of violence and aggression.

“The parents getting involved tend to spark it up more than what’s happening on the field,” Roosters forward Boyd Cordner said.

Players from multiple junior football clubs told NSWRL of the nerve-racking experience that comes from off-field spectators hearing screams like ‘belt the opposition’ and ‘break their legs’

As we’ve said previously, ending violence in junior rugby league isn’t simply about policing the game with tighter rules and punishments, it needs to be about creating a safer environment overall.

While violent conduct on the field often earns the spotlight, we need to remember the important role spectators play in this as well.

Children shouldn’t be intimidated by spectators when playing rugby league, its intended to be a safe, fun activity.

As Former Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello said: “Remember, it’s just a game … at the end of the day, even in first grade, it’s just a game.”

Source: NSWRL ‘It’s Just A Game’

Image source: NSWRL Referees (@nswrlra)


– JN


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