RFL Chief Executive writes to clubs over treatment of officials

The clash between Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants was huge as the two battle with Warrington Wolves, Hull FC, Hull KR and Salford Red Devils for the final two play-off spots which made it a must win game for both sides.

It was not an easy game for official Marcus Griffiths either with this pressure making a number of 50/50 calls even tougher on the official.

It didn’t help that many claimed the drop goal from Jake Connor went wide including Leeds boss Rohan Smith.

Following the game, sadly Griffiths was subject to homophobic abuse online and the RFL have issued a statement backing their official.

This is the peak of a recent trend online of fans being critical of officials more than usual, perhaps due to the competitive nature of this season.

This has led to Tony Sutton writing to clubs about the treatment of officials as revealed in the statement:

“The Rugby Football League stands behind Marcus Griffiths, one of the full-time panel of elite match officials, as he highlights the disgraceful, homophobic abuse he has received on social media.

“Tony Sutton, the RFL Chief Executive, has written to all professional clubs today stressing the importance of observing the sport’s Tackle It policy and Respect code of conduct in supporting match officials.”

“All in the sport will condemn the appalling abuse which Marcus Griffiths has received on social media,” Sutton explained.

“We will provide support to Marcus through Rugby League Cares, and have worked with him in alerting the relevant authorities, whether digital or law-enforcement.

“We would urge all involved in the sport, whether at clubs or even in the media, to consider the consequences of their words and actions.

“Homophobic abuse is a hate crime and punishable by law. We want to be clear that any kind of discriminatory abuse is not welcome in our sport, and we will take the strongest possible action against perpetrators who can be identified.

“Our Match Officials work under intense scrutiny and pressure. We owe it to them as a governing body, and also as a sport, to support them at all times.”