Greytown playing Red Star in the Under-9 semi-final. PHOTO/AARON WOODCOCK

Bad behaviour by parents has rugby final canned

STEVE RENDLE
steve.rendle@age.co.nz

Wairarapa’s Under-9 rugby final scheduled for tonight has been cancelled, after Red Star and Greytown clubs agreed to send a “strong message” to badly behaved parents.

During a contentious semi-final between the teams last Saturday, parents hurled verbal abuse at a referee, leading to club officials agreeing that neither team would go to the final against Gladstone.

The match was refereed by the coaches and ended in confusion when the Greytown coach had his side as the winner 7-6 (one point is awarded for a try), while the Red Star coach recorded it as a draw.

The match was decided in extra time by a Red Star try.

The celebrations were short-lived, however, with the club delegates this week agreeing that neither side would play the final.

It robbed the players of the chance to play under lights on the artificial turf at Masterton’s Memorial Park, leaving parents angry and players in tears.

Red Star parent Liz Polley said her son Theo was devastated by what had happened.

“What do we want our children to learn from this? I can tell you what my eight-year-old has learned – that he wants to quit and not play rugby next season.

“I can’t believe the kids are being punished because of the behaviour of the parents.

“Why couldn’t it have been handled in a way that they could have played the final – why didn’t they ban the parents involved?

“The team has worked so hard this season, but now they’re heartbroken.”

Red Star spokesman Brent McGlashan agreed the decision was hard on the players.

“No, it’s not fair on the kids, but what happened on the sidelines wasn’t fair to the kids either,” he said.

“We got together and decided to set a precedent – there is no need for that kind of behaviour.”

McGlashan said the problem was widespread.

“We’re disappointed other grades haven’t taken action. There was some pretty ugly stuff in other grades on Saturday.”

Greytown delegate Tavita Isaac agreed.

“It’s sad for both teams and for Gladstone, but it’s a consequence of the poor behaviour of parents.

“The reason there is no final is that both teams agreed that the best way to send a message to parents was that neither team would be in the final.”

Isaac said while parents could be passionate, “the bottom line is that it’s about the kids”.

“Sideline abuse is much bigger than an Under-9 final. We hope this sends a strong message to all adults that bad sidelines behaviour has no place in our sport.”

Gladstone disappointed not to play under lights

At junior [JAB] level, clubs are encouraged to resolve disputes by themselves, and the Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union was not involved in the decision.

Chief executive Tony Hargood praised the clubs for their approach.

“We’re very disappointed that this has happened but we’re pleased with the positive action taken by the clubs,” he said.

“We’ve probably had one of our best JAB seasons for a long time and something has just happened over the weekend.”

Hargood said the union would be working with clubs to develop measures to improve sideline behaviour.

“We want positive sidelines and we’ll be doing work over summer to reinforce that for the 2019 season.”

Gladstone JAB convener Andy Bunny said the club’s Under-9s were also disappointed they had won by default.

“They won the competition but they won’t get to play under the lights,” he said.

“It’s not a good place to be.

“Ref abuse can be shocking . . . the kids are there to have fun.”