NRL referees consider strike action over officiating change

NRL referees could go on strike in protest of the Australian Rugby League Commission's [ALRC] decision to cut back to a single whistleblower effective immediately, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The league's officiating union, the Professional Rugby League Match Officials Incorporated (PRLMO), is considering taking industrial action and lodging a dispute notice against the officiating path the NRL has taken, as it believes there was no communication or consultation with its referees in the decision making process. This would be a breach of the recently signed enterprise bargaining agreement.

"It is definitely something we don't want to do [but] we won't rule that out," PRLMO chairman Silvio Del Vecchio told the Herald when asked if the union was considering taking action. "We want conciliation rather than confrontation with the NRL.

"Which employer in Australia changes the entire structure of the department without consulting the employees?"

The NRL is confident the change, along with introducing a six-again rule which would replace penalties for ruck infringements, will help speed up and improve the flow of the game. It would also reduce the league's operational expenses.

The competition had hoped to resume on May 28 and while the strike is another curveball the league will have to face, Del Vecchio is confident the dispute will be resolved.

"People will ask me if this will stall the competition on May 28; no it doesn't," Del Vecchio said. "We aim to have this resolved well and truly before then. We are keen for the game to go ahead as we know it, not some cheapened version of it that has been such a tremendous spectacle over the last decade.

"We are determined that [the league will resume when planned], and will be officiated under the current model that has been tested and successful for more than a decade."