Is political duplicity the name of the game at referee versus SLR? | Page 3 | Sunday Observer

Is political duplicity the name of the game at referee versus SLR?

2 October, 2022

The double standards of the Sri Lanka Society of Rugby Football Referees (SLSRFR) has come to light following incidents of violence against match officials this season.

They have no hesitation in holding Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) to ransom when they are at the receiving end at club competitions but are willing to compromise their dignity even if they are physically assaulted during traditional school matches or privately run tournaments.

When school rugby was revived after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, the frustrations of fans erupted when the referee was assaulted by a parent during the match between Trinity and S. Thomas’ at Havelock Park in March. A Police complaint was lodged but the matter was resolved amicably and school rugby continued without any hiccup.

In the latest incident, a coach assaulted the referee during a junior rugby carnival but the tournament was conducted without being disrupted since the officials had to carry out their commitment to blow the whistle come what may.

It has been pointed out in the past that incidents like this are like a time bomb waiting to explode because there is no proper jurisdiction in how tournaments are conducted.

Although the SLR Constitution has provision to make by-laws for the betterment of the game, when a disciplinary issue occurs there is no proper regulatory mechanism. Instead the police have become the disciplinary authority and not the rugby governing bodies.

The stand taken by the Referees Society also smacks of hypocrisy. They make a hue and cry when it comes to matches sanctioned by SLR but take a lenient approach when dealing with the schools body. The only redress in case of any untoward incident is complaining to the police because they have not taken permission from SLR or the schools authority when officiating private tournaments.

“It is immaterial whether aggrieved parties come to a settlement or not but you must have a disciplinary inquiry when incidents happen during rugby matches. If by any chance if something drastic happens, then can SLR just wait outside.

The constitution has provision to impose by-laws as and when necessary. They have the instrument to monitor all this. They should decentralize authority to the schools association or provincial unions,” a former rugby official pointed out.

“First priority is for authorities to take action. Then comes the police because that (violence) is a criminal act. The onus is on the administration to take action. Police action is secondary. Even referees conveniently ignore their priorities. For club matches they want SLR to punish offenders but are satisfied with police action when it comes to the schools association,” he added.

“Crux of the matter is that all stakeholders are either ignorant of the law or care less about it. They are good at passing the buck, excellent and wise at making use of law when it comes to their own interests,” he added.