The NSWRL's 'Respect' Campaign, launched across all junior and senior competitions in 2016, has had instant success, according to total judiciary findings.
Established in February, the 'Respect' campaign was aimed at eliminating offensive behaviour on the football field throughout all competitions. A number of protocols and procedures were introduced, including the pre-game shaking of hands between players, the wearing of a captain's arm band to demonstrate added responsibility and a Junior League Respect Pledge, with players committing to act in a manner that displays excellence, inclusiveness, courage, teamwork and respect.
Messages encouraging parents and spectators to "Let Them Play" were communicated in March, with current and former NSW VB Blues players Laurie Daley, Steve Roach, Anthony Minichiello, Aaron Woods, David Klemmer, Ryan Hoffman, Josh Dugan and Brett Morris joining the cause. Finally, the Junior League Respect Round was held in June, with more than 45,000 participants celebrating a respectful atmospher at Junior Rugby League games.
These NSWRL formed part of a game-wide approach in 2016 and, according to judiciary figures, have proven successful. In total, the number of judiciary charges across all eight Junior Rugby League catchments decreased more than 33 per cent from 2015, with charges graded "high" and "serious" experiencing the most significant decreases (62 and 68 per cent respectively). The under-19 age group saw the biggest drop in charges (75 per cent), proving that the campaign has not only been effective in changing the behaviours of the youngest participants.
The 'Respect' campaign is set to reach new heights in 2017, with the aim of improving on-field behaviour even further. New messaging will be communicated in the lead-up to the Junior Rugby League season, while the Junior League Respect Pledge will be integrated into the registration process for the first time. The Junior League Respect Round will be held once again after the success it had in 2016.
Finally, greater focus will be placed on off-field behaviour next season, thanks to greater surveilance of parents and spectators. Project 'Blindside,' which this year saw referees fitted with action cameras to record on-field indiscretions, will extend to the sidelines in 2017, with Ground Managers also wearing the cameras. It will ensure further improvements are made to create safer, more respectful environments at Junior League matches in the future.