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West Belconnen faces judiciary after referee complains of being pushed to ground after game

West Belconnen Warriors will front the Canberra Raiders Cup judiciary on Wednesday to answer a complaint lodged by a referee knocked over by a spectator after a loss to Queanbeyan Kangaroos on Sunday. 

Referee Martin Jones fell to the ground when walking to the dressing sheds after the Warriors were beaten 26-20 at Raiders Belconnen, and has filed an incident report to the league. 

West Belconnen believe it is a misunderstanding and will argue that an unidentified spectator pushed a Warriors supporter into Jones before fleeing. 

West Belconnen was on the wrong end of some controversial late decisions and a fan was overhead by The Canberra Times yelling ''you're a disgrace, referees'' several times in close proximity to the officials as they left the field. 

Canberra Raiders Cup officials have warned clubs they would be strict regarding issues of referee safety this season. 

In 2011, a referee strike for the final regular season round was narrowly averted after a compromise was reached following a handful of incidents of referee verbal abuse. 


Canberra Raiders Cup chief executive Karen Ebsworth said both clubs have been asked for a report, and it would be investigated to decide whether any further action is needed. 

"We've got a few procedures in place that usually prevent these things from happening; obviously there was a breakdown there,'' Ebsworth said. 

"West Belconnen is a difficult ground to control that way because everyone's so close to where the referees leave the field. 

"It's more finding out who did whatever it was, and there's a whole range of things we can do like banning that person from coming to games, which we've done in the past. 

"Hopefully we can get it sorted out; we need to look after our referees and touch judges.''

Canberra District Rugby League Referees Association executive officer Chris Nightingale said such instances have been extremely rare in recent years. 

"It's an isolated incident; it's the first time we had such an incident in years at any ground,'' Nightingale said. 

"We're always looking out for the safety of referees in areas such as Belconnen, where there's no control to walk up the steps into the dressing room, and we've passed that onto the league.

"The problem is it's a thoroughfare everyone uses to go to the canteen and other areas; there's no way of blocking it off.''

West Belconnen secretary Tom Pearce said they had been unable to identify the person involved. 

"The person who pushed him, we don't know who he is. You can't stop spectators voicing their opinion or getting cranky,'' he said. 

"Some guy walked past and pushed one of the Westies supporters into the refs and knocked him over a bit. 

"We went in there and calmed the ref down and said it wasn't really him, it was someone else. 

"The league wants to find out what actually happened. The referee filed an incident so we have to go and face that.''

West Belconnen prop John Papalii will also answer a charge after being sent off for a raised elbow late in the match.