Consolidation and Support

BRLRA 1940

FRONT ROW – MA Taylor(MC,LM,S),L Jacobson(Ass.Sec.),C McKinnon(Tres), J Brady(Pres,C,LM),
TL McNamara (Sec.), C Brandenberg, T Mace (V. Pres)
SECOND ROW – S Russel (MC,LM,C), SW Chambers (C), LA Haylock, RJ Eve (V. Pres), L Sharp, R White,
F Moynihan (MC,N,LM)
THIRD ROW – EA Crawford (LM), AD McKenzie, F Jacobson, JF Ballard, MJ O’Connor (LM,C), P Carmody,
A Matzdorf (LM,S)
BACK ROW – G Elley, M Moloney, DR Wilson, SL Robertson (C)
ABSENT – E Hogan, JE Moynihan, D Haig, T Freese, G Files, J Simpson, W Lewis, W Moorehead, CR O’Brien
Management Committee – MC, International – N, Interstate – S, Intercity – C, Life Member – LM

The Second World War broke out in September 1939 but did not affect Australian Sport until 1942 when Japan came into the war and challenged Australian sovereignty.

On April 26th, M Taylor was punched in the face in the aftermath of the Wests v Valleys President Cup game. The attack occurred in the Valley’s dressing sheds. When he entered Valley’s dressing-room he was tripped, and later was attacked by a crowd of men, who surged into the room. When he was finally rescued by
Valley officials and removed to an inner dressing-room. The player responsible was disqualified for life 1.

The BRL suspended the Premiership in 1942 and the competition became the Liberty Cup and the Victory Cup and no fees were made from 1942 to 1944.In 1942 there were 18 members in the BRLRA, but by 1944 numbers reduced to eight active referees. At the end of the war, referee numbers steadily improved and by 1946, there were over 30 active referees.

Fees were restored in 1945 and by 1957 had risen to 1 Pound ($2*) then to 1 Pound 5 Shillings ($2.50*) (*1966 estimate) and so increased from there to the present payments.

Laurie Kearney (now a journalist) being remembered for the 1920 ashes test. Courier Mail 13th June 1946.

Stan Chambers on the front page for a different reason. Brisbane Telegraph 8th February 1948 p1,3.

The Queensland Rugby League abolished grading in 1949 and but the BRL introduced back in that year, against the wishes of the Association. Under this system only referees who were graded were appointed to the senior games and could never be relegated to a lower grade and no other referee could be upgraded to a senior game. Each year the Association would nominate members for grading out of which the Brisbane League would select five members. With the submission of names the Management Committee would approach the league to abolish the system. These approaches always fell on deaf ears; until 1969 when the League abolished the system.

Before the advent of Trainers on the touchline, Ambulance Officers from the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade (QATB) were on duty for fixtures. Due to some differences a meeting was called to sort out the problems. Attending this 1947 meeting were the BRL, N & G Cook (Senior Bearers), J Mackay (Secretary QATB Union) and the Referees Management Committee, where the following was resolved:

Referees adopt standardised signal for the Ambulance Officer.
Before signalling ascertain if possible whether the bearer’s services are required.
In all cases, after sufficient time has been given for the bearer to diagnose, Player to be removed to the side line for the necessary treatment, provided that the player can be moved without further injury.
Bearer not to go on to the field until such time as he has been signalled to do so by the referee, except in cases where an obviously severe injury has been received by a player and which has not been seen by the Referee or Touch Judges.
The BRL cooperate by giving every publicity through their programs – Press etc to the accepted practice for the benefit of the public generally.

What is a Referee To Do?
From the BRL Program 6th September 1941
The question recently raised in a copy of the “Rugby League News” as to the relative merits of a referee who adopted a stringent and literal interpretation of the laws of the game, as compared with one whose lenient interpretations amounted almost to allowing players an open go, certainly raises some interesting argument, and your editor has invited answers to the question of which referee would be right.

If I may be allowed to express my humble opinion, I would say neither, and, in the hope of erasing any illusions that might exist in the minds of referees as a result of the controversy, I add the following in explanation:

Let us first take the example of the referee who adopts the “Nelson’s eye” outlook in his refereeing, and who takes the view that, if he stops all the breaches, he will spoil the game. In the public interest, his is a very laudable view, but the duties of a referee are manifold, and, while they include that of swinging the game along in spectacular fashion, they do not allow him to do this to the exclusion of a correct application of the laws as laid down. After all, this game of Rugby League should be played as Rugby League and should not be turned into something resembling a game of “Red Rover”, in the interests of continuity.

But, if the alternative is the referee who, in conscientious endeavour to conduct his game strictly in accordance with the laid-down laws and who, as a result, jars the even tenor of the game, and, at the same time, irritates both players and public by continuous whistling, is it not then better to have our game a la Red Rover? Perhaps it would be, but, if it is not necessary to have either, why raise the question?

Actually, the fact that our present-day refereeing gave a certain journalist an opportunity to raise the question, seems to me to indicate a deterioration in the standard of refereeing, and here’s the reason: An examination of the failings of both the referees exemplified reveals that neither has a proper understanding of the Advantage law. Now, the Advantage law has correctly been referred to as the game’s greatest rule. It covers a multitude, and no referee can ever expect to attain any degree of efficiency, without having become an adept at its administration.

Today, we hear and read much in condemnation of scrum illegalities, but very, very often, those who criticise the scrums would be less severe if they were fully conscious of the extent to which the Advantage law can be applied in these scrums. I do not wish to be misunderstood here, by suggesting that our scrum refereeing, at the present time, is not open to much improvement, but I do say that the referee who gets proper control of his forwards early in the scrum, and who applies the Advantage law to the extent that he can do in his scrums, will encounter little of the difficulties that so frequently spoil the games of those who are unable to properly control them.

The same thing applies to play the game rucks, off-side breaches, in-goal breaches, knock-ons and forward passes. None of these phases of the laws can be properly applied without correct application of the Advantage law, and so, I say, the question asked by your editor, “What is the referee to do?” should be answered this way: “It is up to the referee.”

A Laurie Kearney today would not leave room for the question.

F Moynihan
Frank Moynihan LM 19472
Frank Ballard 19503

Norm Castley makes the paper! Sunday Mail 5th April 1953 p17.

The 1956 Walk-off
The 1956 finals series was highlighted by sensation when skipper Duncan Hall led his Wests team in a walk-off, protesting against
referee Col Wright in the major final Wests v Brothers. A string of refereeing decisions against Wests culminated in Alec Watson being sent off for apparently “passing a remark’ at Wright. When Watson refused to leave the field, Hall came to his defense arguing that Wright had the wrong player. After a heated exchange, Hall was ordered off as well, whereby Hall directed his team to follow. Col Wright waited four minutes for Wests to return before blowing a premature end to the match4.

Col Wright hurrying off 17 minutes before full-time. Sunday Mail 21st August 2011 (photo courtesy of News Queensland Archive).

According to Henry Albert LM who was the touch judge in the game, the matter escalated when a journalist overheard the referees’ discussion after the game who promptly announced another referee strike5. After lengthy deliberations, the League decided that as Brothers led at the time, the result would stand4 and the BRL appointed ‘scab’ referees for the following semi-final game Valley v Wests at the ‘Gabba5. Although the BRLRA never approved the strike, it was likely to proceed if the matter was presented to the members and the BRL assumed the same. However, the incident soon became more complicated when Valleys refused to play unless the game was controlled by the BRLRA. The BRL then reverted back to BRLRA approved appointment which happened to be Col Wright. Wests than decided not to play under Wright’s control again for perceived unfair decisions. As Wright was appointed to the semi-final, Wests refused to take the field.

The game did not take place as scheduled. Eventually, common sense was restored, and the match was played on the following Wednesday night at the Exhibition Grounds5 with Col Wright as referee.


  1. Rugby League to Sift Attack on Cup Final Referee, 1941. Courier Mail, 28 April 1941, p8.
  2. Sunday Truth and Sunday Sun Newspaper Photographic Negatives, 1947. State Library of Queensland.
  3. Sunday Mail, 1950. Rugby League Row Forcing Big Shake-Up in Code. 9th 1950, Brisbane.
  4. Mike Higgison, date unknown. QRL History The 1920s – the first golden era”. Webpage accessed January 2015.
  5. Greg Mallory, 2010. Voices from Brisbane Rugby League, p69. Boolarong Press.

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