Ref Abuse - It Will Cost Plenty !

The National Rugby League (NRL) has threatened to fine clubs up to $A50,000 ($NZ57,930) for criticising referees.

NRL chief executive David Gallop issued the warning after Cronulla and Australian coach Chris Anderson was fined a record $A15,000 for abusing rookie referee Rod Lawrence after the Sharks beat the Wests Tigers last Saturday.

The fine is usually $A10,000 but the Sharks copped an extra $A5000 because Anderson refused to back down after calling Lawrence "a f?-ing disgrace" as they walked down the tunnel.

Anderson was seething at what he claimed was the non-enforcement of the 10-metre rule between the teams.

Gallop said abusing referees could not be condoned.

"No matter what the situation, referees are entitled to leave the field without being abused.

"Not only will we not back away from the issue, we will increase the fines if necessary. We would be prepared to fine clubs $A50,000 if the circumstances warranted it," Gallop said.

"Frankly if we allow the sort of behaviour we saw on Saturday night to continue then we simply won't find people who want to be referees."

Sharks chairman Barry Pierce said the club was considering whether to challenge the fine.

"I know Chris was uptight but I would like to have a talk to the board before we decide on a course of action."