“Aggressive and loud side-line parents embarrass their children playing rugby, union research is showing.
“We were told by children themselves that they found that influence from the sideline was a negative,” rugby union CEO Steve Tew said today at the launching of a new programme to clean up the sidelines tagged APPLAUD.
“It is not a crisis, we just want to make the game better for the kids to play.”
All Blacks Andrew Hore, Piri Weepu, Steven Luatua and Francis Saili along with Black Ferns Emma Jensen and Milly Deans rolled out to Remuera’s College Rifles Club to launch the programme which includes a book “My Parents are Ugly” to discourage abuse.
Just ahead of running the touchline for the under 12 College Rifles Bullets and Carlton Black, Weepu told supporters and media that there had been a few incidents lately.
“We don’t want them to get ugly on the sidelines.
“Support the children but do not get ugly doing it.
“It can be pretty embarrassing. I’ve had that happen to me as a kid.”
“I know that most people are pretty competitive, but you’ve got to let footie happen. It is a contact sport. ”
His own family liked to take part in sideline support.
“Its not abusive, but it is loud and pretty supportive. All the abusive stuff it’s not the best to come out in kid’s rugby, it’s not the nicest thing to hear people swearing at the referee.”
Tew said APPLAUD was about adding to the environment they want for children in the sport.
Abusive sideline spectators had always been there while 99 percent of people simply enjoyed the game.
“We are talking about a very small minority. It is always a bit easy to get caught up in the emotion of watching your kids play. We have to remind people to take a deep breathe and let the kids enjoy the game.”
Hore said he was part of the programme to make sure “the kids and parents are playing rugby for the right reason.”
Rugby wasn’t violent, it was a contact sport.
“New Zealand men enjoy getting out there and ripping into it… You walk on the field and play hard against your mates. After the game you shake hands and have a beer.”
Auckland mayor Len Brown said that as the city owned most of the sports fields they were concerned that parents “don’t lose it on the sideline”.
“The launch of APPLAUD by the rugby union is a reminder to really think very clearly how we support our kids and the types of message we give around our sport. And you play the ball, not the man.”
APPLAUD includes a charter and a code to promote the rugby environment, along with promotional material including wristbands and referee bibs.”