Roar Exclusive: The referees’ letter to the NRL
NRL referees co-coach Bill Harrigan speaks to the media about some of the controversial referee calls during last nights State of Origin during a press conference at Rugby League Central in Sydney, Thursday, May 24, 2012. The NSW Blues lost to Queensland in the first of three State of Origin matches. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
In another The Roar exclusive, we have obtained a copy of the super-secret letter prepared by NRL referees for Bill “Hollywood” Harrigan:
It’s time we talked. Or, to be more precise, left a detailed note listing your faults duct-taped to your private ensuite while we hide behind the training sheds. No offence mate, but you were in the SWAT team once.
Firstly, we would just like to say that as your long-serving minions, we fully respect all you have achieved in the game, and the man you have become. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that you’re the same cheeky young go getter who blew that penalty against Bruce McGuire in the ’89 GF. God, how we used to laugh as you played it over and over again in the conference room.
Good times, Bill, good times.
You were also a marvellous referee who revolutionised the game, something we will never forget. To be honest, it’s actually kind of hard to forget, when you kept reminding us all the time.
But yet, here we stand.
At first when you and your mate Stuart ‘Just call me Johnny’ Raper took over we couldn’t believe our luck. Wacko, here was the man who’d refereed so many great Origins, Tests, finals and Gladiator episodes. And he was going to be our boss! This was better than new whistle day!
More importantly though you were a bloke who had stood at the coalface, calmly explained rule 34-A12* to it in a monotone drawl and then sent it off for an early shower.
You were one of us.
As time went on though, like in so many relationships, things began to change. Your eccentricities which were cute, if not charming at first, slowly began to grate.
Little things like switching Wednesday evenings from X-Box night to Bikram yoga night. Putting us in painful police takedown holds until we passed out for fun. Hogging the mirror in the changing rooms. Bringing your ab-roller into the Video Ref’s box. Switching the yearly mad Monday celebrations from a day at Simbio Wildlife Park to a 35km soft sand run being barked at by your SAS mates.
Then, there was the psychological stuff.
Constantly mispronouncing Matt Cecchin’s name as “Chicken’. Giving Shayne Hayne the nickname ‘The Situation’.
We appreciate what you were trying to do here, toughen us up for the real world etc, but when you reduced poor little Tony de las Heras to tears over his poor craftsmanship at the Easter bonnet parade, we knew things had changed forever.
Then, when you started hogging Sean Hampstead’s limelight after he worked so hard for his headline in Origin one, what with your Billy Madison type explanation, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The growing discomfort around the once serene surrounds of Ref HQ cannot be ignored any longer.
We are tired, stressed, heavily gelled and just want to go back to the simple life of being pelted with empty food containers and having our sexuality questioned every couple of minutes.
What we’re trying to say Bill is that maybe we’re holding you back, the world could use a bloke like you. Think of all the campy game shows, junior presentation nights and dry TV sports panels that are just waiting to be ‘Billed’.
So go forth sweet prince, oh Royalty of Refs. Spread your good word to the masses.
And may the touchies flags rise up to meet you, and the crowd’s abuse be always at your back.
NRL Refs 2012
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Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious