The New Zealand Rugby Union says the resignation of a Marlborough referee because of sideline abuse is a rare event.
The referee, Grant Sinclair, says he has had enough of constant criticism from players and coaches, and some of it had become personal.
The NZRU says there have been about 50 reported cases of referee abuse this year, which is below the average of 80 such incidents, from 70,000 games of rugby.
Brent Anderson, a former All Black who is now the Rugby Union's Community and Provincial Union general manager, says this season has seen just three cases of physical abuse of a referee.
Mr Anderson says abuse is rarely given as the main reason for the resignation of a referee.