Group 11 secretary Paul Loxley says he’s surprised injured Wellington Cowboys captain-coach Aidan Ryan made public his criticism of one of the competition’s most senior referees following last Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash at No.1 Oval.
The defending premiers, CYMS proved too good in a 46-22 demolition of the Cowboys at Dubbo, but the Wellington mentor was livid with the performance of Willy Barnes, one of Country Rugby League’s most decorated and respected whistle-blowers.
Ryan told a television station blind American soul musician “Stevie Wonder” could have done a better job in a post game interview, while also adding “I think he’d know he had a disappointing game and that ultimately cost us the game” when speaking to the Daily Liberal and questioned why a one-versus-two clash didn’t earn the appointment of Group 11's “number one referee”, Simon Hartas.
Hartas has controlled the last two first grade grand finals.
Loxley is part of the Group 11 appointments board and took exception to Ryan’s comments and said the Group 11 board was following up the incident.
“We’re a group of people who give up their time to do the job … Aidan can have an opinion but a lot of other factors that goes into the appointments,” Loxley said.
Unavailability, past performances and how many times a referee has controlled games with certain clubs are just some of those factors.
“Lot more to it that what Aidan probably appreciates. We’ve got a number of referees who have done first grade games this season, and Willie is definitely one of the most respected officials in country NSW,” he added.
“I would say I’m surprised Aidan would (criticise the referee), given it’s totally against CRL policy to make public comment about refereeing performance.
“If there is an issue we’d prefer he take it up with Group 11 or the referee’s association.”
With three rounds remaining before the semi-finals start, Loxley said Sunday's clash in Dubbo is a timely reminder to fans to keep their emotions in check.
He added it was the responsibility of both clubs on game day to supply ground managers to help keep the paying public safe.
“The group has spent a lot of time emphasising with clubs the importance of crowd management. Everyone’s safety and the name of the game is paramount,” he said.