Promoting positive sideline behaviour has been a key issue for rugby league in New Zealand – and all grassroots sport – in recent times, with the consumption of alcohol at grounds pinpointed as an area that needs addressing.

Woolston Rams have taken the initiative to make a difference by banning booze on the sideline at all of their club’s home games.

The club is also encouraging supporters to take their rubbish away with them, rather than leaving it behind or overloading bins.

“We’re trying to shift towards a family focus, so obviously having kids at games where there’s people totally smashed on the sidelines isn’t a good look,” Woolston secretary Kat Mather said.

“It was about shifting that culture.”

Traditional home ground Woolston Park is currently out of action, with the Rams using Bromley Park in the meantime – and the new rules apply wherever the club takes its games.

Mather said the reaction from Rams members, supporters and players has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Everyone’s pretty on-board. We got some funding to bring a coffee truck in, so we offer free coffee and hot chocolate at our games, which a lot of people at the games are utilising.”

The Rams have received support CAYAD (Community Action of Youth and Drugs) in their campaign to uphold a more family-friendly environment.

Woolston field three junior teams, a President’s team and a side in the women’s premiership, but this weekend it’s their Division One squad in the spotlight.

The Rams, who finished the regular season in third spot in the Division One competition, host Marist Saints Gold in a sudden-death semi at Bromley Park that kicks off at 1pm. It’s a repeat of last year’s grand final, which Woolston won 28-20.

And the Rams bring some handy form into the finals as they look to keep their bid for back-to-back titles alive, trouncing ladder leaders Burnham Chevaliers 46-0 last weekend.

Mather said they are hoping for a big turnout at Bromley Park for the do-or-die game – and there’s plenty of coffee and hot chocolate to go around!

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