UPDATE: CRL supports decision to impose two-year ban
UPDATE, FRIDAY 1PM: Country Rugby League CEO Terry Quinn has commended Group 2 officials in their effort to stamp out ugly incidents between crowd and players from the game.
The Group put the career of Nambucca Roosters' star Jay Melrose on hold for the next two years following an incident after the final siren of the first grade fixture at Frank McGuren Field on March 25.
It was a fall from grace for the Nambucca halfback who was named Group 2 Player of the Year in 2015 and guided the Nambucca side to within a whisker of back-to-back finals berths last season.
The suspension of Melrose came with a strong warning from Group 2 president Warren Gilkinson that this type of behaviour would not be tolerated from either side of the barrier.
Quinn said the CRL stood firm with the Group 2 committee, praising them for their efforts in getting it out of the game.
"Country Rugby League fully supports Group 2 Rugby League's decision to send a strong warning to players and spectators about their behaviour," Quinn said.
"The Rugby League Code of Conduct provides all participants - players, parents, coaches, referees, spectators and officials - with simple rules that assist in delivering a safe and positive environment to everyone involved in the game.
"Everyone who attends rugby league matches has a right to feel safe and I commend Group 2 on their action taken."
EARLIER: Group 2 officials have sent a clear message to players and spectators that they want a safe and friendly environment at all games following the two-year suspension of Nambucca Heads Roosters player Jay Melrose.
Melrose pleaded guilty to breaching the national code of conduct for rugby league as well as one count of player misconduct in front of a special committee hearing on Tuesday night.
The charges were a result of an ugly incident involving players and spectators after the conclusion of the first grade clash between Grafton Ghosts and the Roosters at Frank McGuren Field in the first round.
Melrose was suspended from playing rugby league and all other facets of the game until October 31, 2018.
"We need people to know we are not putting up with any type of trouble like this," Group 2 president Warren Gilkinson said. "This is not just Group 2, but comes from the NRL management all the way down, we have to take a stand on this issue."
While the Roosters playmaker showed remorse for his actions, his previous record which included a one-year suspension for allegedly threatening the life of a referee in 2014, saw the halfback receive a tough penalty from the special Group 2 panel.
- Rebels and referee at loggerheads before game abandoned
- Group 2 severe on ref abuse, Melrose suspended for rest of 2014
- Rebel Melrose speaks out about Group 2 death threats
- Melrose relishes in second chance at Roosters
- Melrose named 2015 Group 2 Player of the Year
One spectator who had his father and son at the ground with him during the incident said he was left feeling angry while his son was petrified by what happened.
Gilkinson said it was those types of feelings for spectators that he did not want to happen at any future Group 2 fixture.
"We have had too many complaints from parents and families about the behaviour of players and spectators," he said. "Rugby league is a family game and we don't want people coming to matches in fear.
"Anything could have happened on that afternoon and we are very lucky it did not explode into something more violent."
While the suspension dealt to Melrose sends a clear message to players and clubs, Gilkinson said spectators needed to be aware that their behaviour is also under the spotlight.
"The people on the sideline need to have a long hard look at themselves about what they yell at players," he said. "It is alright to champion your team, but that does not happen at the insult of opposition players.
"Spectators are covered by the same code of conduct as the players and officials.
"If they want to yell out abuse at referees or players, whether racial or otherwise, ground managers have a duty to stop the game and eject the spectator."
The accepted behaviour of the crowd is outlined in the national code of conduct.