GROUP 10 judiciary chairperson Gary Norton is someone who prefers to stay behind the scenes, but ahead of season 2022 he has issued a stern warning.
His message is that abuse will not be tolerated.
As Norton sees it, threatening referees, players, officials or spectators ranks as one of the worst offences that can be committed.
"Over recent years there has been a trend towards the abuse of match officials and it's not on, it simply is not on," Norton said.
"We can't have games of rugby league if we don't have a referee, it's that simple. Why would anyone want to referee a game if they're going to be abused or threatened with violence?
"So with that, it is very important for group management - and this is any group within rugby league - that they support the referees.
"I am very happy to say since I've been involved with the judiciary that management from within Group 10, they've been very supportive of referees and the judiciary since I have been involved are also very supportive.
"It's not blind support, if the referee wants to make a complaint the complaint has got to be provable. But if it is proven, then the perpetrator has a serious problem in front of them."
Over recent years there has been a trend towards the abuse of match officials and it's not on, it simply is not on.- Gary Norton
In his time as chairperson, Norton and his judiciary have certainly handed out big suspensions to those found guilty of abuse.
It is something they will not hesitate to do again if warranted.
"We have seen cases in Group 10, there have been a few cases where players have been given two years plus," Norton said.
"At the end of the day if someone is threatening, whether it be towards a match official or someone who is sitting in the crowd enjoying watching a game of football, if they feel threatened in any way, that truly is amongst the worst things anyone can do.
"It's certainly treated as the worst thing anyone can do."
During his long involvement with the sport, Norton has seen many changes.
He says that females becoming involved via league tag and tackle competitions is "certainly the best thing that has happened" to the sport.
That increased involvement of females has in turn led to more children playing and attending games as well and creating a real family atmosphere.
That is something Norton is feels is vital to the future of the sport. That is why he feels so passionate about trying to stamp out abusive behaviour.
"It is really important for rugby league - and any sport - to be a family orientated sport. If we don't follow that path then the game of rugby league will lose long term," he said.
"What is acceptable today is what will mould the behaviour of adults in 10-20 years time, we are talking about kids.
"If kids see these sorts of things as acceptable or condoned or the norm, then what will we expect in that 10-20 years time?
"I've got to say that Group 10 is doing a great job."
Norton said that spectators who feel threatened should report incidents to ground managers, who are present at all games.
In regard to any offences arising in the new Peter McDonald Premiership - one which involves Group 10 and Group 11 clubs - Norton predicts the judiciary used will be based around which club hosts.
For an example if an incident occurs in Bathurst it would be referred to the Group 10 judiciary, if one occurred in Dubbo it would be the Group 11 judiciary which makes a ruling.
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