It’s been a month of milestones, deciders and representative carnivals, and Queensland’s referees have been leading the way through it all.
In this edition of Referee Round-up, we celebrate the latest achievements of our match officials.
Queensland Rugby League state match officials manager Clayton Sharpe said while it’s been jam-packed period, the elite performers have shone through and set a platform for officiating throughout the 2022 season.
“It’s a busy time because we have all these carnivals but everyone is achieving milestones,” Sharpe said.
“Everyone’s achieving at a high level. Our carnivals are representative carnivals so people are given the opportunity to go to those to not only develop but also because they’re seen as a cut above the rest.
“It’s a level of elite performance.”
Here are some of the major milestones and moments from the past month.
1. History makers
On Saturday, April 23, a group of referees notched up a “first” for the QRL’s Officiating High Performance Unit.
It was the first time in history that all the match official roles for an NRL fixture were filled by those who have been or are currently involved in the HPU.
At the Round 7 clash between the North Queensland Cowboys and Gold Coast Titans, main referee Chris Butler was joined by touch judges, Michael Wise and Wyatt Raymond, standby referee Taylor Worth, and match day coach Peter Gough, for the momentous occasion.
In Round 8 of the NRL – in the showdown between the Newcastle Knights and Melbourne Storm – Liam Kennedy made his NRL referee debut under the single referee model.
Kennedy is a former QRL HPU member.
“Liam is a great example of the effectiveness and success of the pathway offered by the QRL for match officials to be able to achieve at the highest level," Sharpe said.
3. Stepping stones
Sixteen referees took their first steps through the QRL and Queensland Secondary Schools' Rugby League (QSSRL) carnival system earlier this month.
From May 5 to 8, the QSSRL Under 15 and Under 18 Girls' Rugby League State Championships were held at Marley Brown Oval in Gladstone, with this carnival the beginning of a development pathway for Queensland's referees.
Those in attendance were provided with coaching feedback after each appointment and received education on preparation, performance, prehab/rehab, and the expectations and values of the QRL High Performance Unit.
4. Grand final appointments
After another big season, it was Nick McEwan (referee), Dylan Lawrence and Cameron Wegner (touch judges) and Cody Kwik (standby referee) who were awarded with the job of officiating the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup grand final.
Souths Logan Magpies walked away victorious, claiming a 38-26 win over Townsville Blackhawks.
McEwan is also the recipient of the John Topp Medal for the junior representatives referee of the year.
5. Regional carnivals
The weekend of April 29 to May 1 saw the three major regional carnivals be played in Townsville, Gladstone and on the Gold Coast.
A number of match officials turned out at the Foley Shield, 47th Battalion and Chairman’s Challenge, in a strong showing of the refereeing talent across Queensland.
More than 30 games were played across the state over the weekend.
6. NRLW grand final
Another major event in Queensland rugby league in the past month was the NRLW premiership decider.
Held at Redcliffe’s Moreton Daily Stadium, the match between the Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons was officiated by former QRL HPU member, Belinda Sharpe.
Also appointed to the match was current QRL HPU member, Tori Wilkie (standby touch judge), and former HPU member, Peter Gough (match day coach).
Wilkie also made her reserve grade debut for Gold Coast Rugby League last weekend, officiating in the Ormeau Shearers v Southport Tigers match.