Tasman Rugby Union’s Kahu Marfell and Shawn Begg supporting the new campaign to reward volunteer referees of junior rugby. With them at Greenmeadows are Stoke School ripper rugby players Nicole Byrman, 9, Latia Grey, 10, Tanykah Wilson, 10 and Matachi Ray, 8. Photo: Andrew Board.

Applauding our volunteer refs

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A new campaign aimed at stopping abuse towards volunteer parent referees and rewarding them for their efforts has been launched.
Richmond Mall and Tasman Rugby Union has combined to acknowledge the efforts of volunteer referees at junior rugby games across Nelson and Tasman and will give one $100 Richmond Mall voucher to a volunteer referee each week for the next ten weeks.
Richmond Mall manager David Hill says the mall wanted to support those who give up their time in the community. “We salute those mums and dads who give up their Saturday mornings to ensure the kids of Nelson and Tasman can enjoy their rugby. JAB rugby is only possible because of those who take up a whistle and keep the game going.”
The campaign runs in support of the New Zealand Rugby initiative APPLAUD, which encourages supporters to be good sports at schools and clubs, while also seeking to stamp out anti-social sideline behaviour.
Around 75 volunteers have participated in the Tasman Rugby Union’s junior referee course this year. TRU development officer Kahu Marfell says abusive behaviour on the sidelines of all sporting codes is an issue and anything to promote good behaviour on sidelines is welcomed.
“Living through your kid is probably the wrong thing and some parents overstep the mark. Without these volunteers who coach and referee games there wouldn’t be a sport for their child to play. So we are encouraging clubs to make a stand and say that behaviour isn’t acceptable and if we can reward those people who step up to the plate and actually do these jobs, then it’s great.”
Kahu says abuse towards junior rugby referees isn’t as bad in Nelson as other centres but it does happen.
“Even at ripper rugby we’ve had parents complain about referees but what are we here for at the end of the day? It’s to watch the kids and you ask the kids if they like mum and dad screaming and yelling on the sideline and they say no. But there’s a lot of those sort of people around.”
He says it’s great that Richmond Mall has decided to come on board and help reward those who put their hand up to help out.
“It’s awesome, those people definitely deserve it so good on Richmond Mall for getting involved and helping celebrate these people.”
Each week for the next ten, TRU will select a winner of the vouchers.