Refs on strike? Dear me, what’s next?

By Casey O'Connor

The countdown to the restart of the 2020 NRL season is on in earnest with only seven sleeps until the kick off between the Broncos and Eels at Suncorp Stadium.

But wait – there could yet be a fly in the ointment or perhaps wax with the Professional Rugby League Match Officials Association, essentially the Ref’s Union (who knew that body even existed?) unpleased by the decision of the blokes who run the game to revert to one match referee. They the PRLMO lodged a formal dispute notice with the Fair Work Commission and Tuesday’s hearing did not bring a resolution. The refs and are threatening strike action.

Referees on strike – what next? It could almost be comical. Like many others I fail to understand the referees’ stance. No-one has lost their job. The people who run the show want to change the rules and in international games, lower grades, Intrust Cup and NSW Cup etc etc there is only one on-field referee anyway.

Referees maintain they are concerned for player welfare. Players and many coaches apparently think it is a positive change. Refs are also concerned that their standing in the game will be diminished. Please spare me the violin music.

It’s pretty obvious that despite two on-field referees, a pair of touch judges (someone please explain their role) and the million dollar bunker the quality of the game’s decision makers has not markedly improved, nor their standing in the game.

The players, administrators, broadcasters, health and bio-security experts and several governments have worked hard to get to the starting gates ready to reboot the 2020 competition. It seems that a previously unknown – Silvio Del Vecchio – seems intent on derailing all the hard work. Del Vecchio, the boss of the PRLMO Association, appears to be better known as the owner of Erina Laser Clinics Australia in a Terrigal shopping centre which apparently specializes in Brazilian waxing, lip injections, double chin sculpting and full face needling according to the website.

With no resolution forthcoming on Tuesday the NRL is headed to an 11th hour arbitration hearing in front of the full bench of the Fair Work Commission next week.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all in Rugby League…. words simply fail me.


Seems Peter V’Landys is quite adept at upsetting the Victorian racing world. He drew the ire of Victorian Racing and plenty of others when he had the temerity to challenge the sanctity of the Melbourne Spring Carnival. V’Landy’s scheduled the running of the Everest, the World’s Richest Race on turf at Randwick to clash with the VRC’s Caulfield Cup Day.

And now with the announcement of the revised dates for the 2020 State of Origin Series it seems he has done it again. It has been confirmed Origin will be played after the completion of the NRL season. November 4, 11 and 18 have been locked in with venues yet to be confirmed. Some in racing circles fear State of Origin will take the gloss of the Cup which will be run on November 3.

Can’t say I subscribe to that theory although I’m sure the rescheduling is more likely to put a dent in a few mad Monday celebrations.

One group who will not be blindsided by State of Origin or anything else is the syndicate that owns Kiwi bred mare Oceanex who last weekend grabbed a golden ticket into the Melbourne Cup when she won the listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m) at Flemington. Trained by Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr Oceanex is the first horse to gain entry into the 2020 Lexus Melbourne Cup .

I’m sure her connections will have more on their mind than what will be happening in the rugby league world.


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