Leeds Rhinos Foundation launch new Respect campaign

Leeds Rhinos players are backing a new campaign calling for respect for junior players ahead of the start of the new 2016 junior Rugby League season, which kicks of this Saturday.

As part of Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Rugby League Development Plan, sponsored by MEARS, the charity have been working with each of the city’s community clubs on a new ‘Respect’ campaign which promotes a positive touchline line behaviour.
Leon Crick, who manages Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Rugby League Development Plan, said: “As one of the basic principles of our development plan is to nurture new players it is recognised that for this to be successful they need to learn and play in an environment that is not intimidating or hostile.  As part of the respect campaign we are working with community clubs to help foster a healthy atmosphere for children to enjoy the game, with a focus on positive touchline etiquette from everyone involved including players, coaches and spectators.  We have been really please with the support from the community game, with all clubs agreeing to display the signs.”
The Respect campaign, which is supported by Child Friendly Leeds, is a response to concerns from across the game about unacceptable touchline behaviour in rugby league and it aims to improve the conduct of those involved in the game to create a more positive place for children to play.  As part of the campaign each Leeds community club will receive signage which will be displayed around their grounds asking for spectators to be respectful to those playing the game and to set a good example.
Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott, who is an Ambassador for the campaign, believes this is an important issue for the game to address.
“We are we doing this campaign because we want more kids playing the game, we want our sport to be the best, most played sport in the country and this is a sure fire way of achieving that,” said McDermott. 
“The vast majority of clubs have got a great environment and great discipline, they are very well run, show a huge amount of control on game day, the kids are very well coached and the whole club has got some great infrastructures to it. The reality is though you go to some clubs and the environment is not what it should be, it’s too challenging, too intense and almost abusive, and what some people think is support is actually just negative feedback. 
“We talk about disciplining players and getting players to be as disciplined as they can be, but then we move on to parents and coaches and we are trying to educate parents and coaches about how shouting at the top of your voice about how disappointed you are doesn’t work.  I can tell you that as a professional it doesn’t work, it may make you feel good for a period of time but it definitely doesn’t work. So this campaign is massive and if the aim for everyone in the community game is to get more kids playing, surely the aim for all community clubs is to get the kids to play and enjoy it.”
The junior Rugby League season begins on Saturday 5th March and Rhinos captain Danny McGuire will be visiting his old club East Leeds to deliver their new Respect signage.