The harassment of referees has forced the Eastern Province Rugby Union to cancel all club matches this weekend.
This follows the EP Rugby Referees Society's decision to withdraw its services. The referees raised concerns over the escalating levels of verbal and physical harassment at certain club rugby matches, citing threats of bodily harm and incidents wherein referees have been spat on and have had to be physically protected by players and executive members, and one recent instance where a referee’s car tires were slashed after a game.
'While we do not condone the method in which the referees dealt with the issue – as we have protocols in place to deal with such matters – following discussions held with representatives from the referees we have decided to cancel all games this coming weekend in sympathy with their concerns,' said EPRU president Cheeky Watson.
'We as a union feel that this is simply unacceptable and will not condone this type of behaviour in any form whatsoever. We have already notified the clubs that all games for this coming weekend have been cancelled and have called on the clubs to address the issue of the abuse towards referees as a matter of urgency.'