Suspension stands - referee out until June 30

A LENGTHY suspension handed out to leading Group Three Rugby League referee Wayne Archer will stand.

This follows a meeting of the Group Three Rugby League Referees' Association executive this week.

Archer was suspended by the executive on September 22 last year. He is unable to control games at senior or junior level until after June 30 this season.

Association secretary Ken Fuller said the suspension was the culmination of incidents that had occurred over the previous 12 to 18 months. He refuted a report in the Times that it was solely the result of incidents on Group Three grand final day at Wauchope last September, where Archer was touch judge for the first grade match between between Wauchope and Old Bar.

"That was an erroneous claim,'' he said.

However, he added the grand final was the 'straw the broke the camel's back.'

"In hindsight we should have pulled him in earlier and spoken to him about the matter,'' Fuller said.

"But everyone has 20/20 vision in hindsight.''

Fuller added that Archer had let his appeal time lapse following the original suspension. He later sent at letter to Group Three secretary Barrie Smith requesting the matter be dealt with again. Fuller explained that this breached protocol as the correspondence should have been sent to the referees' association.

Fuller said the decision to turn down the appeal had the full backing of the association's general committee.

"In fact, if we'd overturned the original decision or lessened the suspension three or four members would have withdrawn their services for the year,'' he added.

Group Three secretary Barrie Smith told the Times last month the group would 'work through' the matter with the referees' association.

Smith, who attended the general meeting of the referees this week but not the executive meeting, explained yesterday that the referees' association is affiliated with the group and the group exercises some control over it, in the same manner as the Group Three Junior Rugby League.

However, there is nothing further the group can do now.

"The matter was handed in-house by the referees,'' he said.

Smith said it is a concern that the group has lost an experienced referee for the majority of the season, especially with the competition expanding to eight clubs this year.

"We could strike difficulties when we have all our matches scheduled for the one day,'' he said.

However, Fuller said the association would have up to 19 referees this year and he was confident all commitments would be met.

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