A DRAMATIC situation has developed in West Yorkshire rugby league, and it is one that will affect several junior Bradford teams this weekend.

Sadly, it is based on the all too familiar topic of referee abuse, and the Huddersfield Rugby League Referees Society has had enough.

In an announcement on Twitter on Wednesday, they said: "We have withdrawn our Under-18s officials from the availability pool for this weekend's Yorkshire Junior and Youth League fixtures.

"We no longer feel that the league discipline will safeguard our officials when it comes to abuse, after recent findings from the discipline panel.

"Our appointments officer has emailed all clubs in the Huddersfield/Halifax/Bradford area that we cover to make them aware.

"We still have some adults available and will prioritise oldest age groups and those clubs with multiple sides at home.

"We have tried working with the league over the last few seasons to build relationships and keep rugby enjoyable for everyone, however this week has shown that no progress has been made.

"We feel like we have no voice. We can't safeguard our referees without the support of the league, and it has now come to the point that we have to take more drastic action to safeguard ourselves.

"We apologise to the teams affected by this this week, as the majority are brilliant and supportive of our young officials.

"Sometimes a little action can make a big difference, and we hope that you can see past the inconvenience and support us."

On Thursday evening, they tweeted: "We would like to ask members of the media to please stop contacting our officials for requests for interviews.

"We appreciate your support, however this isn't an avenue we wish to go down at this time."

However, they did release this further statement yesterday morning, which read: "We are overwhelmed with the support we have received following our statement on Wednesday, from both within rugby league and the wider sporting community.

"We never expected to receive so many kind messages and for this we are truly grateful.

"Abuse of referees is never acceptable, regardless of what has happened.

"It has significant impacts on not only the mental and emotional health of the official, but also impacts the participation figures of the sport.

"Without a referee there is no game.

"Our first duty as a management committee will always be to protect our officials, even more so when they are juniors. This is why we took the action we did this week.

"Our issues are twofold - the increase in abuse and the way that it is subsequently dealt with.

"While our issues are with a specific league, let us be clear that this is not isolated.

"Since posting (on Wednesday), we have received messages from colleagues across the country with their own horrific experiences of abuse.

"This has to stop.

"We promised our clubs that we would do our best to cover the games we needed to this weekend, and with officials travelling from other parts of the country, we have.

"We never wanted to stop kids playing rugby. Our goal is to make sure as many people play and love rugby league.

"We have made our point and shown that we will not take this any more, change needs to happen.

"We look forward to re-engaging with the Yorkshire Junior and Youth League to make more meaningful changes to ensure the enjoyment and safety of our officials within rugby league."