Referee Alec Cullen at Rex Hardaker Oval.
Referee Alec Cullen at Rex Hardaker Oval.

All-in brawl too much for referee

By CRAIG McTEAR

JUNIOR rugby league simply can't afford to lose people like Alec Cullen. The 42-year-old referee ? a mentor to many youngsters progressing through the ranks ? has quit in disgust in the wake of a blow-up at an under 14s match at Rex Hardaker Oval on August 9. He said two Players from Kempsey team Dunghutti Broncos charged a Sawtell Panther with their elbows after full-time and the retaliations which followed sparked an all-in brawl between players from both sides. Alec saw two Dunghutti parents, a man and a woman, join the fray. He claims the man kicked a 16-year-old linesman while he was on the ground, leaving him with grazes across his ribs and red marks on his back, while the woman was swinging punches at Sawtell players. He says the pair hurled abuse at the young official. "I have never seen such a cowardly and blatant act from any parent from any club," he said. "It's getting that bad that parents watching junior rugby league games will have to pay for the hire of security guards." He had hoped the Group 2 Junior Rugby League executive, which heard evidence on Wednesday night, would suspend the two parents from future involvement in the sport. "But they told me there were too many conflicting reports to do anything to them," Alec said. "I was absolutely flabbergasted. They were virtually saying I was lying, that it never happened. "That was it for me. I felt if there was an incident at a game down the track, Group 2 wouldn't back me up, so I decided to quit. "The Dunghutti parents apparently told the committee that at no stage did they become involved." Alec said he was dumbfounded when he learned Sawtell was placed on a $1000 bond for 'not being able to control the crowd'. He understands the Dunghutti club was placed on a similar bond. "I've copped verbal abuse during my six years as a junior league referee, but I've never seen a touch judge get hit like the 16-year-old did," he said. The linesman has left the matter in the hands of police. The Group 2 judiciary suspended for one match the two Dunghutti players whose actions lit the fuse. Dunghutti Junior Rugby League president Paul Davis said his club did not condone foul play, and his colleagues were trying to run their organisation professionally. He confirmed the Broncos had 'dealt with' the two parents involved. "I'm sorry Alec (Cullen) has resigned, but it shows the pressure referees, league management and the judiciary are under. I take my hat off to them," he said. Paul said his club was all about providing opportunities for young people. In a statement issued yesterday, Group 2 Junior Rugby League secretary, Maurice Hulbert, said in part: "No one club or one person was to be blamed for the incident. We found both clubs to be guilty of breaches of the code of conduct and were charged accordingly. "Individual charges were laid upon persons involved, and they were also charged accordingly under the penalties stated in the code of conduct. "These incidents will not be tolerated by Group 2 and Country Rugby League."



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