When an NRL player is attacked by an angry official while helping out at a junior rugby league match, you know that particular youth sport needs to take a look at itself.
That is allegedly what happened to Panthers’ Dallin Watene-Zelezniak when he was acting as a touch judge during the St Clair and St Mary’s match on Saturday morning at Peppertree Park in west Sydney.
The Kiwi international put his flag up to signify a St Mary’s player had stepped into touch, leading to an angry St Mary’s official allegedly abusing and confronting Watene-Zelezniak.
The official is then said to have put his hands around Watene-Zelezniak’s neck and started wrestling with him.
“It was very ugly and parents and officials had to take the kids across the field before a few people eventually broke it up,” an eyewitness told nine.com.au.
“Officials eventually ejected the St Mary’s official from the oval.”
Regarded as one of the NRL’s good guys, Watene-Zelezniak was able to brush off the incident to feature for the Panthers in their win over Gold Coast.
The Panthers released a statement on Sunday saying the player was not to blame for what happened at the junior league match.
”Penrith Panthers is aware of an incident involving Panthers player Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, which occurred at a junior rugby league fixture in St Clair on Saturday morning,’’ the statement read.
”Watene-Zelezniak was volunteering as a sideline official at the time and contacted Panthers Executive General Manager Phil Gould immediately following the incident.
”Panthers can confirm Watene-Zelezniak was not the instigator of the incident.
”The incident is currently under investigation by Penrith Junior League and Panthers will review the matter on Monday.”
We recently published a blog on parents at a UK school being banned from sports day because of the threatening behaviour of a minority of parents.
It seems whether the culprits are officials or parents, there is a small segment that forget they are attending youth sports rather than some free-for-all at the local pub.
In Sweden, a country generally regarded for the mild mannered nature of its citizens, pushy parents in youth football have become such a problem that three Stockholm clubs have decided to act.
Threatening parents in Sweden? English parents banned from a school sports day? An NRL star attacked at a junior league match? It seems no matter the sport, some can’t help seeing the red mist at youth level. And it’s happening to those who should know better.