Canberra Region Rugby League has issued a directive to players at all levels of the game to raise the standards of their behaviour.
Feedback from the Canberra and District Rugby League Referees Association has brought consistently poor language on the field into the spotlight.
"The language itself has been consistently poor and out loud," CRRL general manager, Mark Vergano, said.
"It's a bad image, it does not paint our game in a positive light. We understand frustration, we understand these things slip out and we want to draw a line. It doesn't make for a pleasant environment."
While most of the ill language at matches stems from players expressing frustration at a mistake, it sometimes becomes directed at others, usually match officials.
This, Vergano said, is also unacceptable and could lead to the loss of referees.
"The supply of referees is not endless, and we want to keep them in the game all sports are wrestling with match officials leaving the sport," he said.
"So the better we can make the environment on the field, the better chance we have of keeping them."
Goulburn City Bulldogs committee member, John Sykes, said the club has always made behavioural standards very clear.
"We don't tolerate that behaviour on field," Sykes said.
"All in all as a club, we're pretty clean that way. We certainly don't condone it and the players know what's expected from them.
"It happens out of frustration sometimes but we don't promote it."
The focus on improving on-field behaviour, however, has not detracted from the CRRL's emphasis on cutting down abuse from spectators.
"We still expect standards of behaviour from spectators and supporters, and we remind them of the code of conduct," Vergano said.
"We don't back away from that, it's still an issue and we're supporting the Shoosh for Kids initiative out of the NSW Office of Sport."
Local clubs are working to eliminate abuse and poor behaviour of any kind, from players or spectators, in order to spread a positive image of the sport and ensure numbers continue to grow.
This is particularly crucial in the junior levels of the game, where the emphasis is on inclusivity, building skills, and fun rather than competition.
To this end, age groups up to the Under 9s have been made non-competitive in local rugby league, to lessen the chance of antagonistic reactions from the sidelines.
"They've taken the competitiveness out of the Under 9s," Goulburn Junior Stockmen president, Matt Cowling, said.
"Some people were against it, but it's a really good thing. Because if it gets taken out with the kids, the parents lose [that competitiveness] as well. They're the ones that want to win more than the kids.
"The 'hit them, smash them, get them' sort of talk in league, there's no place for that in the game at junior levels."
Incivility, regardless of whether it is on or off-field, damages the game, Vergano said.
"We want to make it a better playing environment for everybody and we don't necessarily need [poor behaviour]," he said.
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