TEST referee Willie Roos has resigned from refereeing, prompting André Watson, referees' manager of the South African Rugby Union, to call on rugby supporters to return to traditional values of respect towards officials.
Roos retired from refereeing after 15 years of training and experience after he was abused and had a drink flung in his face in Kimberley after an Absa Currie Cup Premier Division match. Some supporters blamed Roos for GWK Griquas' defeat after they earned two yellow cards in the final 10 minutes and succumbed to a late score from the Vodacom Blue Bulls. Roos is taking legal action against his assailant.
"We have been working hard to recruit more referees and have seen a 6 percent increase in our numbers, but incidents like this and the criticism and abuse that our officials receive both from the stands and from the attendant publicity violates the spirit of rugby," Watson said.
"It takes many years and tens of thousands of rands to bring a referee through the ranks and to lose one because of the actions of a few hot-headed supporters and ill-informed media comments is desperately wasteful from a rugby point of view.
"I'd like to thank Roos and pay tribute to him for the many thousands of hours he has given to the game in usually unglamorous surroundings, which at times took him away from his family. We tried to talk him out of his decision, but he told us that 'enough is enough'."
In his letter of resignation Roos said his passion for the game had gone: "I have made mistakes in my career but they were never intentional and I always tried my best. But I fail to understand how the decisions of referees are blamed for winning and losing matches but those of coaches and players are not." - Sapa