Here are a number of initiatives we can all do to achieve a safe and enjoyable environment.
The number you choose to do is entirely up to your school or club.
Ways to get behind Applaud
Let parents and caregivers know you are backing APPLAUD, what it means and ask for their support.
Teams can either create their own Small Blacks Rugby charter here at www.smallblacks.com or print available template resources. Consider making the charter available for the whole team, including parents, caregivers and coaches – or better still, involve them in the development of your very own charter.
Rally the Supporters
If it works for your grounds, have designated areas where fans and supporters can stand or sit. Roping off is best! This is also good to rally the supporters together as the can cheer and applaud louder when they are in a group.
Run a competition within your school or club getting teams or individuals to come up with their own catch phrases or ask them to submit how they best demonstrate APPLAUD. Ask children to come up with catchy APPLAUD slogans. Award prizes for the best efforts and display these around the school or club.
Make APPLAUD part of your next Sports Day and encourage children to create banners and positive chants to cheer on all teams throughout the day. APPLAUD can apply across all sporting events.
Consider appointing a person or group to be responsible for setting up APPLAUD initiatives within your club or school and champion it through so that it is always active. Use the green bibs to have an APPLAUD Official roam the field showing good side-line behaviour, applauding and perhaps suggesting others tone it down a bit.
Coaches and referees
Unfortunately, coaches and referees are sometimes the focus of negative comments from side-line supporters. Ensure the role of coaches and referees are understood at schools and clubs. Also, talk with your coaches and referees about APPLAUD and measure effective manage negative side-line behaviour when it occurs. On the field, consider having an area dedicated for officials. This space allows team officials to be recognised, and situated away from their opposition and spectators. This is an area where they must stay for the whole game – even a few metres of separation can reduce some of the ‘triggers’ that so often result in poor behaviour.
At the beginning of the game talk to parents, side-line supporters, players, match officials etc. and set the tone of the game and what is considered a positive environment e.g. get the team to shake the opposing team’s hands before the match starts and wish them good luck or ensure a pre-match briefing between the referee, players and supporters about what is expected of them throughout the game.
In 2015 we started handing out APPLAUD lollipops for supporters to suck during the game – this was successful for two reasons – it was good for branding and when in someones mouth it was quiet!
Monitoring Behaviour and awards
Schools and clubs can provide regular feedback relating to the conduct of other participating teams. This can vary between just seeking the feedback of the referee or providing a score against each of the criteria for both teams.
The detail of these feedback schemes can vary from club to club or school to school but they should relate to the conduct of the players, coaches and spectators and include post-match hospitality and ‘positive’ play by the teams involved.
The collection of these feedback sheets and regular communication can clearly identify to a school or club where problems might exist. They can also provide the basis for improving the situation.
Feedback can also provide the starting point to re-set targets if behaviours have fallen below the desired levels.
So we have awards and you could too!
Excellent feedback can also result in APPLAUD awards to the participating clubs or schools. By sending in the official APPLAUD card to APPLAUD, New Zealand Rugby, PO Box 2172, Wellington, your school or club could win a number of prizes.
Use an APPLAUD certificate or prize to reward your ‘good sports’.
The Back-up Plan
While we can implement a number of good measures to prevent the bad, we still need to establish a process should an incident arise. This gives the team, coaches, parents and caregivers an understanding that the incident will be dealt with in a fair and appropriate manner. (Note – an example of an incident could vary from verbal abuse to fighting.)
Your club or school should contain clear procedures for disciplining members who breach codes of conduct. When setting up disciplinary procedures it is advisable to seek legal advice and speak to your local provincial union.