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Coleraine Rugby Club fined £5,000 after female referee verbally abused

The female referee was verbally abused during a match at Coleraine Rugby Club in March

COLERAINE Rugby Club has been fined £5,000 after a female referee was verbally abused.

Ulster Rugby authorities issued the penalty after the referee, understood to be Grainne Crabtree, was verbally abused at the club last season.

Ms Crabtree, a former City of Derry player, was the target of sexist, verbal abuse from the touchline during a match between Coleraine and Dromore on March 10.

Following the incident, the Ulster Society of Rugby Referees boycotted fixtures at Coleraine's home matches.

It is understood an initial sanction imposed by rugby authorities was not acceptable to the referees body, but a further review undertaken by the IRFU has led to the protest ending.

In a statement, Coleraine Rugby Club said it was "pleased that there has been a resolution to the long-running dispute involving rugby's Ulster Branch Referees Society and the club".

"The club has accepted the decision of the Ulster Branch review into this matter," a spokesperson said.

"We are now looking forward to giving a warm welcome to all referees and teams visiting our club for matches this week and in the future."

The Ulster Society of Rugby Referees also said: "Our interest is the protection of our volunteer members and we are assured by the branch that they are actively reviewing measures to ensure their future well-being".

It is believed that £2,000 of the £5,000 fine will be returned to the club if there are no further incidents in the next two years.

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