The National Rugby League (NRL) has always had issues with its image and a perceived thuggery. Professional players from Australasia’s 16 top tier teams have not done their bit to help this image one bit, from defecating in hotel corridors to performing sex acts with a dog. Just recently, a match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs was marred by disgraceful scenes of crowd and player behaviour. The Canterbury crowd threw bottles and coins at referees after a fair and lawful decision was made, and Bulldog Josh Reynolds was seen throwing a kicking tee at Adam Reynolds, as the Rabbitoh was helped from the field with a season ending injury. What has happened when a role model, instead of applauding a player out of support when injured, throws something at them? Games draw crowds of 15,000 plus, and with TV infinitely more. Seeing this on a Friday has the potential for the acts to be replicated in 500 junior games the next day. Children follow the actions of their role models.
These professional issues aside, rugby league has reached an even more upsetting low. At the start of April, the Penrith District Rugby League appointed security guards to control crowd violence at junior games. These are games being played by children. Under the age of 18. Still at school. And things have gotten so bad that these players and their supporters need security to keep them under control.
Last season, police were called to Allsopp Oval in Cambridge Park after an all-in brawl began on the sidelines between spectators and a reserve-grade team who took offence at heckling aimed at A-grade players. Not only were the supporters and players involved, car loads of people turned up to join the fight, and the police had to be called to break it up. Another Penrith junior was banned for 25 years after running from the bench to kick an opposition player in the head. What incentive is there for parents to encourage their children to play a sport infiltrated with grubs?
There have been no issues to report yet where the guards have have been placed on duty, but by the same token, how many people accelerate above 60 km/h once they pass the Barry Drive speed camera? It is sad this action has had to be taken, but hopefully it does some to curb the violence perpetuating a favourite past time.
It must also be stated that this is only one district out of all of Australia who has been reported in the media as employing security guards.