Three referees recognised for outstanding service

Queensland Rugby League has recognised three referees for outstanding work across the 2019 season. 

QRL Regional General Manager Glenn Ottaway said the three awards - CMO of the Year, Richard Johnston Volunteer of the Year and the Barry Gomersall Encouragement Award - were, in part, to thank the winners for what was sometimes considered a thankless job.

"We know that without match officials and volunteers we don't have the game of rugby league, so it's important to recognise them and their contribution to the game," Ottaway said. 

"From young developing referees through to the volunteers who coach them, everything they do helps make the game better and helps more and more Queenslanders enjoy rugby league on the field and off."

CMO of the Year - Vic Collins

Referee coach Vic Collins has a genuine passion and love for rugby league. Every weekend of the season - Friday, Saturday and Sunday - Collins can be found developing and coaching junior referees from Gympie through to Caboolture. He then backs up and coaches senior football.

Collins, a mentor and friend to many within the referee ranks and outside, said he did not coach for accolades, but he was honoured to get the award.

"I do it to stay in the game and help the next generation, and I get enough of a kick out of that, but it is nice to be recognised," Collins said.

Collins, described as approachable, dependable and versatile, has been involved for several seasons with the coaching of under 16, Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup and Intrust Super Cup referees; attending Monday reviews and completing video reviews where required.

Collins is also on the Sunshine Coast Referee's Association executive, junior committee and is the senior selector for the Association.

Collins, who first officiated at 15 and has been coaching for 10 years at the Sunshine Coast and in the South Burnett region, was this year also invited to the national under 15 carnival and state under 18 carnival as a coach. 

Richard Johnston Volunteer of the Year - Tom Campbell

Tom Campbell is a long-serving member of the Gold Coast Rugby League Referees Association and has sat in several positions - assistant secretary, vice president, director of coaching and development, CMO and referee - on the executive and within the Association itself during the past 16 years. 

Campbell said he did not seek the recognition, but he was honoured to get it. 

"It is nice to be recognised but I get my buzz out of seeing kids develop," Campbell said. "And seeing the looks on their faces when they get recognition or make a step up."

Campbell, a level two CMO and level two referee who is appointed to games every weekend, was integral in the idea and delivery of face-to-face meetings with local clubs' coaching staff to highlight the game from the referees' perspective. The meetings are now an avenue for coaches to ask questions on the laws of the game from the junior laws through to the international and include the safe play code. This initiative will have a long-term positive impact for rugby league at the local level.

Campbell has also driven the Association's training sessions and coordinates and runs training and law sessions prior to every general meeting. Campbell also developed and maintains a register of members' evaluated game level capability and works closely with CMOs to update as they progress through the grades; this information is then passed to the appointment officers.

Barry Gomersall Encouragement Award - Luke Fletcher

Luke Fletcher has had a great year officiating.

The 21-year-old, who has been refereeing since he was 14, was a Hastings Deering Colts referee and touch judge, made his Intrust Super Cup touch judge debut, was a grand final referee for the Aaron Payne Cup at 1300Smiles, officiated more than 70 local games and was a regular referee in the A Grade competition.

"It's something I love doing," Fletcher said. 

Fletcher also assisted Stephen Hamilton by presenting the Emerging Talent Program, the Referee Development Program and is the supervisor/appointment officer of junior referees in Rockhampton.

Fletcher is a great mentor for the junior referees and assisted at the Central Queensland Referee Development Camp in September.

"I'm very proud to receive the award, especially coming from Rocky," Fletcher said. "It was a real surprise."