WHERE has the respect gone?

It was disappointing to see reports in the media that Matt Cecchin is set to call time on his career in the NRL.

Cecchin, one of the standout referees in rugby league has declared that following the 2017 Tonga v England World Cup game, he and his family ended up receiving abuse and death threats, and he ended up requiring police protection.

I was at that Mt Smart semi-final held in Auckland last year, and have to admit a very aggressive crowd, flowed out onto the streets, and it seemed to me that a very emotional young male component within that lot, struggled to deal with the disappointment of just falling short of one of the biggest upsets I can recall.

The aggressive behaviour of a minority spoiled a very enjoyable entertainment spectacle.

The reported abusive death threats that followed against Matt and his family are a dog criminal act, and must not be tolerated in any manner shape of form. They should be punished to the full extent of the law.

As a sport we must take strong action to protect our referees and match officials from any aggressive and abusive behaviour.

I’ve been trying to understand why it is this happens. Where has the respect gone for each other?

Is this more a reflection of the society we are becoming, or is this a problem just affecting sport.

One thing is for certain, as a sport we need to examine what we do and say, to be more respectful to match referees, officials and opposition. Friendly banter I get. Verbal abuse of anyone must not be tolerated.

We must not lose hold of old fashioned values, like respect, please and thank you. It goes a long way in life.

Sporting clubs have an opportunity to reset the mark when it comes to instilling strong values.

Players and coaches are powerful heroes to the adoring masses.

We must be mindful of how we act, and what message we want to send out.

It was disappointing to see, for example, two coaches in League One, recently charged with abusive language towards match officials. Really? Two very competent highly rated coaches. Poor form and I’m sure they will be disappointed with their behaviour.

Clubs, coaches and players need to set the example. Not to be the ones hauled in front of the judiciary to receive a dressing down.

The RFL needs to take a tougher stance here, and the games new leader Ralph Rimmer must take the opportunity to draw the line firmly in the sand for all to see. Work is needed to fully understand the extent of the problem, but I hope the RFL is prepared to set clearer guidelines and tougher penalties against players, officials and clubs.

I know a large increase in trolling has arisen, because the keyboard army finds it too easy to slag off the opinions, views and actions of others from the comfort of their lounge, safe in anonymity. It’s all unacceptable behaviour.

Maybe we should have a respect round in the rugby league calendar, to highlight the importance of traditional values, and its importance in sport.

Sport needs the support of hardworking and dedicated match officials.

Many are very young, and need support, mentoring and protection from those weak and gutless individuals who hurl out verbal and sometimes physical abuse towards these mainly volunteers.

We all need to set an example of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Let’s not tolerate bad or abusive behaviour.

On the field, in the coaching box or sideline, or in the stands and terraces. I can tell you as a club we will step up our strategies to be more respectful – right across the board. We must have a zero tolerance towards the abuse of match officials at all times.

You wouldn’t accept physical or verbal abuse in the work place, why should we tolerate it in sport? Let’s stamp it out.

Sunday’s Challenge Cup double header at Bolton was a roaring success, on and off the field, with a sell-out crowd being entertained by a vocal French contingent, whose team the Catalan Dragons demolished league leaders St Helens with an exciting brand of rugby league.

Wow. After dancing with the million pound game in 2017, new coach and top bloke Steve McNamara has certainly got the team walking on water.

They will meet ultra-consistent Warrington Wolves in what I’m sure will be a stella event at Wembley Stadium on August 25.

I have no doubt the French media will show a renewed interest in the event, and for the Super League the prospect of a second French team from Toulouse entering the top-flight competition now looms with the qualifiers now up and running.

Certainly a Super League which conceivably could have three overseas teams in it next year, will bring pressure to bear on the game’s decision makers to seriously consider expanding from a 12 to a 14-team competition, at the next opportunity.

The financial dynamics start to change positively. Clearly affordability through an improvement in the potential French TV money on offer, combined with the Toronto Wolfpack self-funding and opening up the lucrative North American TV market, will have club owners looking hard at earning better financial returns.

I predict that a second North American team would likewise be a positive game changer.

Great for owners and for managers and especially earnings for players, both on and off the field.

Fans might well get to fly their colours across Europe and North America sooner rather than later. Fingers crossed.

A special congratulations also to our Bulls Women’s team on winning against Stanningley on Sunday to lift the Challenge Shield.

The team has had a much tougher year, and this is a great addition to the trophy cabinet. Another great result for Mark Prescott and the team.

On Sunday, our Ultimate Eight campaign heads to North Wales as we take on the Crusaders, in our third game of the run-in.

We sit on top of the table separated from York City Knights only by our superior points advantage of 92 points.

We know the Crusaders will put up some stiff competition, so nothing but our complete and total focus and respect for the opposition will do.

That lead will get cut back for sure as York City Knights look to put the West Wales Raiders to the sword a day earlier.

We are definitely commencing our run off the back straight now.

We will need every point on the board, and we need to stop every score against us. Things are definitely heating up.

We need your backing and support to help keep us on top. Hope you can make the 90-minute trip to the Queensway Sports Complex, Wrexham,Wales to support your team. Kick-off is 2.30pm on Sunday.