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Outback legends: Kevin Hauff

A legend is defined as “a story coming down from the past”... well, here is a cracking yarn about one of those outback legends.

On July 7, 1990, in the Central West Rugby League, Blackall Magpies hosted a game against nearby rivals Barcaldine Sandgoannas. This was the second time these two teams had met for the year and both were near the top of the table and eager for a win.

The Sandgoannas changed their team positions slightly by placing Liam Balderson - an exceptional forward - at five-eighth to mark Magpies half Peter Hauff who was one of, if not, the best player in the Central West at the time.

During the first half, there were a couple of confrontations between the two players. Then, with a few minutes to go in the first half, the two players came together and it was on.

The ref, Kevin Hauff - known colloquially as 'send 'em off Hauff' let them sort themselves out and gave them a warning on the run and told the teams to keep out of the fight and keep playing.

When things settled down a bit, he called both players together and sent both to the sin bin for 10 minutes to cool down.

When the two players were about 10 metres from the sideline, one of the players from the two teams said something. It is unknown which player or what exactly was said, but this then started an all-in brawl.

Hauff and the two touch judges eventually regained control and called all the players in and did something that probably had never happened on the football field and probably hasn't happened since... he sent both teams to the sin bin.

“Well, if it's good enough to send two players off, it's good enough for all of you to have 10 in the bin," Hauff said.

Barcaldine were sent to their dressing sheds while Blackall were sent to the far end of the field. With the half-time break as well as the 10 minutes in the bin, play was stopped for 20 minutes.

Former Central West referee Kevin Hauff. Photo: Peter Rafter
Former Central West referee Kevin Hauff. Photo: Peter Rafter

While the referee and his offsiders were in the dressing sheds, they decided to call both captains and club presidents into the referee's shed.

"They were asked... 'do you want to play for the two points?'" Hauff asked.

"Can you contain yourselves and the teams for the rest of the game?”

All agreed the game would continue.

After 20 minutes, the players returned with no one knowing what to expect for the remainder of the game.

At this time, teams were kept back five metres, but the referee on this occasion kept both teams back 10 metres often to the protests of the players. But it did keep the peace for the remainder of the game without any further incidents.

Hauff - the referee at the time - had a lengthy playing history, including a stint with St George, playing for Central Queensland as well as lining up for his beloved Blackall Magpies.

He turned to refereeing after he was involved in an incident on the field and decided he was no longer going to play.

He took up the whistle and made a promise to himself that he would make sure that what happened to him on the field would not happen to any player while he was refereeing.

Hauff was a referee for 20 years and retired in 2000 and believes that having been a player prior to taking up the whistle certainly made him a better match official as he knew how the players were feeling and how the game was going and refereed accordingly.

Hauff is very proud of his rugby league career over many years and is still now a passionate supporter of the game who has many stories to tell both as a player and a referee.

*Kevin's story is part of the Outback legends series shared on QRL.com.au, highlighting the enormous contributions made to keep the rugby league flame alive in the Queensland outback.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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