Ask anyone involved in Rugby League what sets the sport apart from others and the overwhelming majority will state that its family ethos is unlike any other sport in the country. Families are encouraged to support their local team - both at grassroots and professional level - and clubs often pride themselves on being family-orientated. Recently however, a number of issues have crept into Rugby League that undermine the so-called "family game". The shocking abuse of match officials from supporters and the negative off-field personalities of players need to be addressed before it alienates future generations and current fans.

Referee abuse

Yes, referees get decisions wrong sometimes, but they are only human. Plus, at live speed, it is incredibly difficult to keep up with everything that is going on that specific time. Therefore, when referee Chris Kendall went to the screen for a Leigh try in their 52-22 hammering by Leeds to check for a possible knock-on after his touch judges couldn't tell him definitively what had occurred, it was perhaps only correct to send it upstairs for the video referee to confirm his original on-field try decision. 34-6 down with a man sent-off by the half-hour mark, Leigh fans were furious and the decision not to award the try straightaway was too much for two individuals behind the sticks.

The two - quite clearly - intoxicated Leigh fans hurled a tirade of abuse at Kendall and it didn't take a genius to work out what they were shouting. Directly behind the two loudmouthed supporters was what looked three generations of the same family - a grandfather, mother and a teenager - all sat clapping for what looked like a try.

Therefore, when Dumb and Dumber came along in front of them it could only have come as a shock. Where were the stewards taking these two idiots out of the ground? They were able to stand and abuse Kendall for about ten seconds before they moved back to - on their own accord - where they had come from.

Add to this that James Child was apparently subjected to homophobic abuse by sections of the Hull KR crowd in their game against Castleford on Friday night and it is obvious that respect for referees is at an all time low.

Is it any wonder therefore, that there is a refereeing shortage at the highest level in this country? For a sport that prides itself on its family culture, these kind of incidences are creeping ever more into the game and damaging that appearance.

Player indiscretions

Drug abuse is becoming an increasing problem within the sport too - the likes of Zak Hardaker and Rangi Chase have both been hit with bans for taking cocaine. Though this is also a societal problem, it still does not do the sport any good when star players hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. And, just this weekend, the video of Joel and Sam Tomkins verbally abusing staff in a bar - presumably in Wigan - went viral, leading to Joel being stepped down by the Warriors for a month and fined £10,000 and Sam £5,000.

These players are role models - not only when they step out onto the field, but when they are out and about facing the public. The fact that two professionals would behave like this is a downright disgrace. Add into the mix the video of a very drunk Albert Kelly that surfaced a month ago - which showed him hurling abuse at a female - and the sport is going in the wrong direction. Kelly was allegedly dealt with behind closed doors whilst the Wigan hierarchy have acted immediately to sanction the Tomkins brothers. But neither should have happened in the first place.

Some fans have been trying to play down both indiscretions, blaming the alcohol. Well, if these players don't know their limits then that's not the alcohol's fault.

Everyone needs to let off steam now and again, but Rugby League stars are always in the public eye. To behave like this gives the sport a bad name and it's sad to see that it's the videos doing the talking on social media rather than the game itself.