There's a problem, and Kiwis aren't getting the message.

The Wellington Rugby Union's now controversial advertisement, which saw All Black Victor Vito pose as an undercover referee to expose sideline behaviour, came under fire when news came forward that actors were used in its creation.

Some responded by saying the campaign was fraudulent and the credibility of the issue undermined.

However, Wellington Rugby's Will Caccia-Birch said the fact that people don't think there is an issue shows just how big the problem is.


Talking to Tony Veitch on Newstalk ZB, Caccia-Birch said they had recorded more incidents of sideline abuse in the past weekend, than in last year's entire season.

"It is absolutely an issue," Caccia-Birch said. "It's on the field and off the field and it is having an impact."

Caccia-Birch also said that poor sideline behaviour was leading to a steadily dropping number of referees.

"You can imagine, you're volunteering your time and you're copping some of this stuff and you can understand why, in time, you'll come to say, 'This is not what I signed up for'."

Caccia-Birch confirmed all parties involved in the advertisement, including parents on the sideline, knew it was set up, but stressed the importance of getting the message out there.

"We want Mum and Dad to turn up on the sideline and enjoy that experience, but just be conscious of what we'd like to see... providing the opportunity for kids on the field to do what they love to do," Caccia-Birch said.

"They just want to get out there, play and enjoy themselves, and not have this background noise that is affecting their ability to enjoy it."

While some continue to criticise the campaign, Caccia-Birch is just happy people are talking about the issue and the conversation is now out in the open.