Clubs told they will lose points if verbal abuse of referees continues
GLOUCESTERSHIRE-affiliated clubs are being threatened with "significant loss of league points" if players or officials are found guilty of abusing referees.
The county's disciplinary committee last season dealt with 24 cases of abuse and, despite a warning from discipline chairman Geoff Davies, a string of further incidents has blighted the current campaign.
In a strongly worded letter sent to clubs over the weekend, Davies made it clear that enough was enough and they would not be tolerating the situation continuing.
He wrote: "My previous warning seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Thus, with immediate effect, there will be a deterrent element added to any referee abuse cases going forward in order to prevent this type of behaviour.
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"After the entry point is determined in the sanctioning process, an additional two weeks will be added under the consideration of aggravating factors.
"Clubs are reminded that they have a direct role in controlling the behaviour of their players on the field.
"Failure to take responsibility for this or repeat offending could ultimately lead to a significant loss of league points for the club."
Bad language on the field is another issue high on the agenda of the disciplinary committee which has received several complaints from watching spectators.
Davies appealed for clubs "to take appropriate steps to ensure that spectators are not subjected to this sort of behaviour".
And he announced that in an effort to reduce the waiting time for hearings, Gloucestershire will now have disciplinary panels operating in both the north and the south on a trial basis until the end of the season.
Discipline at junior level is also an ongoing problem with Shane Aldridge, Gloucestershire's mini and youth chairman, writing to clubs last month after "numerous incidents involving our players receiving red and yellow cards", including a match that had to be abandoned.
In his letter, he said the Bristol & Gloucester Referees' Societies would be asked "to take a harder line and step on ill discipline by issuing red cards for all non-technical offences."
Both letters have been welcomed by Andy Miller, the chairman of the Bristol Referees Society.
He said: "Actions need to speak louder than words.
"The words and sentiments of Geoff Davies are laudable, but what actually happens now is important.
"We welcome any deterrent that will reduce the abuse of referees."
The GRFU, meanwhile, are also concerned about players using illicit drugs.
In his letter, Davies said: "Already this year we have had one high profile case which was related to the use of performance enhancing drugs.
"We are acutely aware that this may be indicative of a growing problem which requires immediate remedial action before the situation gets out of control."
Clubs were warned that the RFU will be conducting random drug testing at all levels within the county this season.
Ben Bolster produced one of the individual displays of the season to finish with 29 points in Keynsham's superb 49-8 victory at Berry Hill in Western Counties North.
The centre crossed twice and, for good measure, banged over five conversions and three penalties while there were also tries from Paul Edson, Mark Harwood (2) and Joe Blann.
The win moved Keynsham one position up the table to 11th, leapfrogging shell-shocked Hill.
It was a good day, too, for Keynsham 2nds who romped in 46-27 at home to Taunton in Somerset Premier, scrum-half Sam Challenger and winger Russ Tanner both touching down twice with further tries from Luke Coles, No 8 Sam Williams and fly-half Matt Fairless.
And the 4ths completed a hat-trick of club successes with a 10-5 triumph at Midsomer Norton in Somerset Three North, Kieran Harvey grabbing a try converted by Dave 'Smiffy' Scott who also booted a penalty.
Alex Featherstone and Jake Robertson both bagged hat-tricks in North Bristol 2nds' 34-9 home defeat of Clifton 3rds at the top of South One of the Gloucestershire Reserve League.
Ashley Milburn was also on target with two conversions as leaders North stretched clear of their closest rivals.
Holders Gordano have been drawn away to league rivals Winscombe in the quarter-finals of the Somerset Vase.
Quarter-final draw: Tor or Crewkerne v Old Bristolians or Wells, Winscombe v Gordano, Midsomer Norton v Stothert & Pitt, St Bernadette's v Chew Valley. Matches to be played by December 23.