Leeds-based player, who had previous spells with the Castleford Tigers and Hunslet academy, suspended indefinitely for alleged assault on the referee in the National Conference match. Yorkshire News

RFL Chief Referee Steve Ganson. Image by Allan McKenzie /

The National Conference League imposed a sine die suspension on Milford player Josh Nathaniel after an incident in a game against the Oulton Raiders last week.

Nathaniel, 30, has the right to appeal and may request a review of the ban after five years.

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That is the maximum time that can be imposed according to the operational rules of the community game.

Nathaniel had a stint at the Castleford Tigers academy and also played for the Hunslet, York City Knights and Hemel Stags.

The RFL has endorsed the punishment, insisting it was the right decision.

Chief Match Officials Steve Ganson said: “Respect for match officials is imperative for everyone in our sport, at all levels.

“Physical abuse by match officials is the unacceptable extreme of disrespect and it is important that on the rare occasions like this, when it does occur, any punishment should reflect that.”

The arbitrator involved was Joe Stearne, a first-degree official of the Castleford and Featherstone Society.

The governing body fears that the incident will make it difficult to recruit the referees.

Ganson insisted: “If incidents like this were not met with the harshest punishment, they would send all the wrong messages as our goal is to increase our recruitment and retention of match officials, which is so important to all levels of the rugby league. .

“Umpire abuse is a major concern in most sporting settings and it is important for everyone in sport to realize that this is unacceptable.

“It is a commonly used statement that without a match official there is no game. This abuse causes serious damage to the recruitment and retention of officials.

“Refereeing at all levels of the sport is difficult and a thankless task, but we must do everything we can to help these officials become the best they can be.

“Match officials are like players in that they make great sacrifices to commit to the sport they love and it is important that everyone involved in extreme cases like this have support available.

“We have made that support available to Joe Stearne, and I am confident that all rugby league fans will send him their best wishes on his recovery.”

The National Conference is committed to working with Milford to support Nathaniel.

President Trevor Hunt said: “The National Conference League has always recognized the importance of supporting all match officials in the performance of their key role within the sport.

“This means that we maintain a firm line against any abuse by match officials, be it verbal or in rare cases like this, physical.

“We will never accept or tolerate such actions and we know that these sentiments are shared by everyone at the Milford club, who have been outstanding members of the NCL for many years.

“We also know and accept that the player involved is deeply upset after the incident and we are determined to work with Milford to support him through these difficult times.”

He continued: “We are grateful to the RFL for the support that they, through their experienced officials and RL Cares, will now provide not only to the referee, but also to Josh, as we seek to eradicate those cases from our purview.”

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This notice was published: 2021-09-04 14:18:16

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