State of Mind have completed an initial survey with St. Helens and Huddersfield Rugby League Referee Societies to support a funding project supported by the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery

The People’s Postcode Lottery fund has supported St. Helen’s Referee Society to improve their mental fitness and as part of that support have bought body cameras to improve training and development of rugby league referees in the area.

State of Mind contacted the two societies to access their views about the use of using body cameras in community rugby league games

The results were taken from two referee societies in July to August 2021. The number of responses (33) from active referees (65) in the two societies which gave a response rate of 51% which is a high response rate for survey research giving a good indication of the views of community referees in relation to the potential use of using body cameras where refereeing.

There was an even split in age ranges of participants 48% under 30 years and 52% over 30 years.

The gender range was predominantly male (91%) and female (9%).

Responses were split between St. Helens Referee Society (61%) and Huddersfield Referee Society (39%).

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The numbers of referees who had received abuse when refereeing totalled 82% with 18% never having received abuse, this supports the research that referees are commonly abused whilst completing an integral role within the sport which contributes to referees leaving the sport (Webb et al., 2020).

A common issue across sports is the concern about how robust the disciplinary processes are for addressing the abuse of match officials and that this deters referees from reporting incidents of abuse. The question to what extent would providing proof of abuse help match officials was responded with 76% of those responding scoring 4 or 5 (the highest rating scores available).

An overwhelming majority of respondents supported (91%) the use of body cameras deterring abuse. All respondents felt using a body camera would make it easier to provide proof of the types of abusive behaviour referees receive and could be used to help train and develop referees.

The first trial of the body cameras in St. Helens took place in mid December 2021 at a rugby league nines tournament and we are awaiting the feedback from the referees involved