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  • Writer's pictureCronulla Sutherland Referees

Refs Join Forces

The St George and Cronulla Sutherland Junior League referees have done something the NRL couldn't achieve, they have joined forces to ensure the best games get the best officials.

The first round of games will kick off on Saturday April 13 but its not just the players who are looking forward to a new season, in 2024 the officials in the middle will also be making news for all the right reasons.

Currently in the Cronulla Sutherland JRL the opens 1st Grade, 2nd grade and 3rd Grade is combined and known as 'Southern Sydney' which captures teams from both St George and the Cronulla league.

In the past if the games have been played in the Sutherland Shire they have been officiated by Cronulla based referees and if in St George by St George referees.

In a new initiative the Cronulla Referee Association has introduced a coming together of the two associations and will have a selected pool of referees from both districts to select the best officials for the game.

This means a Cronulla referee may travel to Arncliffe to referee two St George teams and vice versa. This is the first of its kind in Sydney Metro rugby league.

Drew Blackman the Executive Officer of the Cronulla Sutherland D.R.F.L.R.A said they feel it will be a better experience for the referees - allowing them to control a better standard of games and a better experience for the players and fans by having the appropriate referee for that level of football.

Four St George Refs have been selected along with 10 Sutherland whistleblowers for the initial season -chosen from 45 referees officiating 15 games a week.

Joel Marni from the St George Association said the new schedule will help both players and officials.

"These are our top guys so the best referees will be allocated the best games.

"It's more competitive - refs supporting refs and it's good exposure for us - it's good for footy," he said

This also now means a ref from St George can referee a JRL Grand Final at Cronulla - on a bigger stage.

This new pool will also address the perception that when teams travel away the refs are biased toward their local team - now the best refs will be selected each week to officiate the best games.

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