Player banned for life after attack on referee

The RFL believes the decision taken by a disciplinary hearing of the National Conference League to impose a sine die suspension on the Milford player Josh Nathaniel was the correct one.

Steve Ganson, the RFL’s Head of Match Officials, said: “Respect for match officials is imperative for all in our sport, at all levels.

“Physical abuse of match officials is the unacceptable extreme of disrespect, and it is important that on the very rare occasions such as this when it does occur, any punishment must reflect that.

“If incidents such as this were not met with the most severe punishment, it would send all the wrong messages as we aim to increase our recruitment and retention of match officials, which is so important for all levels of Rugby League.

“Abuse of match officials is a significant concern in a majority of sporting environments and it is important that all in sport realise that this is unacceptable. It is a commonly used statement that without a match official there is no game. This abuse causes serious harm to recruitment and retention of officials.

“Officiating at all levels of the sport is difficult and a thankless task but we must do we all we can to support these officials to become the best they can.

“Match officials are like players in that they make major sacrifices to commit themselves to the sport they love, and it is important that support is available to all involved in extreme cases such as this.

“We have made that support available to Joe Stearne, and I’m sure all Rugby League supporters would send him best wishes in his recovery.”

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