Referees consider hanging up whistles after video goes viral
MACKAY Rugby League referees are considering hanging up their whistles after a video on YouTube has sparked controversy.
The video, of a Sarina and Moranbah game back in round one, depicts what appears to be referee Christian Strang tapping a player on the side of his helmet.
Strang is then approached by a player, Tyler Patteson, who grabs him by the shirt and is sent off the field.
President of the Mackay Referees Association Dave Parnell said the video was "trial by public media" and had only now been uploaded to attack referees.
The incident was taken to the tribunal in April and Strang was cleared but Patteson was suspended for 12 months. In 2004 Strang was banned from refereeing for 15 months for verbally abusing a player but that ban was lifted after referees went on strike.
Parnell said Strang didn't touch the player's head, only his laces, to get his attention because he was pushing tacklers on the ruck.
"In hindsight he should have actually blown his whistle but he wasn't intending to hit him on the head," he said. "If you look at the player he doesn't even know he was touched."
Parnell said the association believed the video was only uploaded to YouTube because suspended player Patteson was recently caught acting as a trainer for the Moranbah side and this was now going to the tribunal. He said referees in Mackay had had enough.
"It's going to seriously impact on Mackay league," he said.
"If clubs don't change their behaviour - the abuse and threats, you may not have a league ... they won't have referees."
He said he had already resigned and others were considering doing the same.
Moranbah Rugby League president Peter Henderson said the club in no way endorsed the video being uploaded to YouTube.
"From a club perspective the issue has been dealt with through the tribunal process. We can't do anything but abide by those decisions," he said.
"We were disappointed that Tyler was not able to play football."
Referring to the upcoming tribunal hearing involving Patteson, Henderson said the judiciary would decide whether Patteson acting as a trainer was appropriate.
"He was just being involved in the game," he said.