WATCH: Victor Vito goes undercover to highlight referee abuse
Victor Vito has been abused and sworn at during an experiment to expose referee abuse.
Vito and a few of his Hurricanes teammates were disguised and sent undercover to officiate a youth rugby match as part of a Wellington Rugby initiative, soon discovering it wasn't just the parents who were getting vocal.
Vito said he was taken aback by the extent of the abuse and the age of those giving it.
"What was a surprise to me was how young it was happening. These boys were only 10 or 11 years old and they were swearing and giving me heaps.
"They actually knew their laws quite well but they thought that gave them the right to tell the ref what to do and really, that's not the case."
This weekend all Wellington club junior teams will be issued with a 'supporter scorecard', whereby an appointed sideline ambassador will rank the opposing team's conduct through categories such as attitude toward the referee and loud and positive cheering.
The Hurricanes forward urged parents and players alike to reassess how they treat the officials.
"There are volunteers that are coming in and giving up their time. They're as important to the games as the players themselves," said Vito.
"Rugby to me is about friends, family, competitiveness, but positivity first and foremost and about having healthy competition with your mates.
"Even though it feels like we're supporting, we've just got to be careful about how we're supporting."
Click above to watch the video and hear from Vito himself