Always an integral Part of Rugby League in Queensland
Rugby League started out as a new sport, originally defecting from Rugby Union in Sydney in 1908. Rugby League quickly became popular with Queensland players relocating to South of the border to play the new game. In 1909, Queensland also kicked off its own competition with the forefathers of our Association under control of the Queensland Rugby League (then known as Queensland Amateur Rugby Football League). At this time, the original Association was known as the Queensland Amateur Rugby Football League Referees’ Association.
In 1922, we saw the formation of the Brisbane Rugby League (BRL) after a disagreement between the QRL and the Brisbane Rugby League Club. They start with just 6 Clubs with 3 top grades controlled by the QRL affiliated referees who were contracted to the BRL. A Referee Pay dispute with the QRL in 1926 wherein a strike was proposed was the catalyst for the BRL to approach a number of referees suggesting they affiliate with the BRL and be known as the Brisbane Rugby League Referees Association (BRLRA). The name and Association remains to this day surviving transformations, revolutions and general changes to the game of Rugby League and the governing bodies.
Over the years there were a number of rocky times with the maltreatment of the referees with subsequent strike action, but we always came out the other end stronger for the encounter. In 1942, the BRL suspended the Premiership due to the Second World War. At that time 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.
The Modern Era
The 1970’s was a mixed time for the Association with our maturation with several competitions combining to form the Brisbane Second Division in 1971 and the Association celebrating 50 years of service in 1975. On the flip side, once again strikes were threatened when the QRL appointed a non-affiliated referee to their games. The late 70’s also saw a morphing of the Association into the investment world with the purchase of a half share of the Caledonian Club located at Kangaroo Point. With Meetings there every Monday night, the club was well supported until progress took over and the offer by developers was too good to resist. That investment still underpins our financial strength which is the envy of all in the Rugby League community.
Late 1980’s, early 1990’s saw the NSW competition expand into the National Rugby League (NRL) wherein opportunities were opened up for several of our members to officiate at the National Level – something that didn’t previously happen despite their Appointments to State and International appointments. This model still is in place today with a number of our Members officiating in the NRL competition.
Growing the Association
1954 saw the introduction of the Brisbane Junior Rugby League (BJRL) managing the junior competitions until 2004 when it was recognised that they needed to grow the game – welcome the Greater Brisbane Junior Rugby League (GBJRL). In 2006, the Brisbane Junior Rugby League Referees’ Association (BJRLA or otherwise known as ‘Club’ referees) were amalgamated into our Association making our Association the biggest Association of Match Officials with 434 registered members that season.
There is much more to our illustrious story – there will be a dedicated website, currently been built to give you the in information you require.
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