COUNTRY Rugby League chief executive Terry Quinn has said he will support the referee who called off Sunday’s Group 10 premier league match between Mudgee and Lithgow after 37 minutes.
Eglinton based referee Brett Masters called time on the game after four separate brawls had broken out and three players had been sin-binned.
At the time Lithgow were leading 8-6 in the top-of-the-table clash in Mudgee.
Speaking on The Ray Hadley Morning Show yesterday, Quinn said he would back Masters in his decision to call the game off before half-time had even been reached.
“We’ll support the referee in this,” Quinn told Hadley.
“I’ve got his report, it has just come through now ... and what he’s done is absolutely correct. We’ll back him on that because we don’t want to see these brawls happening.”
The first brawl broke out in the seventh minute and Masters spoke to both sides about their actions.
After a second fight, Mudgee’s Jono George and Lithgow’s Corey Willmott were sin-binned.
A third fight broke out in the 22nd minute and resulted in Lithgow halfback Josh Howarth getting 10 minutes in the bin.
The fourth fight erupted with less than eight minutes left in the half and Masters pulled the pin.
After the game Mudgee captain Mat Stott said it was a disappointing way to finish the game.
“I don’t know what to say,” Stott said.
“It’s a shame really. It’s a waste. It did get physical out there but that is what happens.”
Lithgow coach Graeme Osborne had a similar opinion.
“It’s disappointing for the fans and disappointing for the game,” Osborne said.
“It’s probably an easy way out. It was a top-of-the-table clash, two good sides, two good clubs, and unfortunately the crowd probably got a bit too riled up too and perhaps encouraged players on the field.”
Hadley suggested the players and coaches from the two clubs needed to take more responsibility for what happened in Sunday’s game and Quinn agreed.
“They’re in control of their players on the field and they should do a better job,” Quinn said.
“This is one of the areas which concerns us greatly, particularly in Group 10.”
Sunday’s shortened match comes almost a year after the derby between Orange CYMS and Orange Hawks was called off 25 minutes early following an ugly brawl.
The fall-out from that match was massive with the Hawks club suspended from the remainder of the 2011 competition.
Hawks’ first division and under 18s sides were later reinstated following an appeal to the CRL.
Two Hawks players and one CYMS player were also suspended for a combined 32 months.
Meanwhile, Group 10 president Linore Zamparini said the Group executive were meeting last night with two representatives each from the Lithgow and Mudgee clubs along with the referees involved in the match.
“We’ll have the video. We’ll view all the evidence and decide whether anything needs to go to the judiciary,” Zamparini explained. “We haven’t seen any evidence yet so we don’t know if it’s a problem with the ground management, the players or the referees.”
The president was clearly unhappy with what had happened in Mudgee.
“It’s very, very disappointing,” he said.
“It’s not good for the game and it’s not good for our competition.”
Still, Zamparini was confident this was an isolated incident.
Group 10 Referees Association president Mark Edwards did not wish to comment on the matter prior last night’s meeting.
Last night’s meeting would also decide what the match result was.
Lithgow were leading 8-6 when the game was called off, but an official match result is still to be confirmed.
There is also the question of whether enough time had been played to constitute a match and Zamparini said he didn’t have the answer.
“That’s a technical thing we’ve got to work through,” he explained.
“Everyone has a different opinion. Some people think you have to play at least three-quarters of a game to make it a game. Hopefully it’s in the constitution.”