The ARL Commission and match officials have reached an agreement to resolve their dispute, clearing the way for the NRL to resume on Thursday with one referee per game.
The referees’ union has agreed to trial the competition’s plan to revert to one on-field official in matches this year in conjunction with the new six-again rule for ruck penalties.
They have also voted to withdraw their claim before Australia’s Fair Work Commission and instructed the Professional Rugby League Match Officials (PRLMO) to do so, after the ARL Commission agreed the 22 full-time referees will retain their positions for the rest of this year and 2021.
“We are pleased that we have a solution that gets us all to the end of the season. We always said that the game will go ahead next week, and it will, that’s what we always wanted,” PRLMO chairman Silvio Del Vecchio said.
The NRL had used a two-referee model since 2009 and a review of the new system will take place when the season ends.
A working group consisting of players, coaches, referees and NRL management will make recommendations to the ARL Commission to determine “the future officiating model” for the NRL.
“It is a constructive sign that the NRL have agreed to do this on a trial basis until the end of the year. Our case in the Fair Work Commission will be resumed, if necessary, and can be revisited, following the ARLC’s response to the working group’s deliberations at the end of the season,” Del Vecchio added.
“This is an excellent outcome for the game and all its stakeholders. Can I thank the individual referees for the way they conducted themselves during today’s discussion,” ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys said.
“It was heart-warming to see their desire that nothing stands in the way of the 28th May commencement of our great game and they want to be an integral part of its success.
“The new rule changes will make our game faster and more entertaining. Most importantly it will address the biggest on-field issues which are speed around the ruck, and the eradication of the wrestle.”