Australian Rugby League Commission chairman, Peter V’landys, has declared NRL match officials will be the ‘most unpopular people in Australia’ if they opt to take industrial action ahead of the May 28 season restart.
This comes after Professional Rugby League Match Officials (PRLMO) association chairman, Silvio Del Vecchio, filed a dispute notice with the Fair Work Commission over the NRL’s decision to return to the one-referee model for the 2020 season restart.
Del Vecchio said the league’s officials were not consulted about the switch back to one referee, which he believes they are required to do under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
“The whole concept of a one-referee model was never, ever raised with us prior to 4:30 last Friday afternoon,” Del Vecchio told Channel 7.
“Strike is a long, long way away and we hope that we don’t get there,” he said.
In response to the PRLMO’s dispute notice, V’landys told WWOS Radio he doesn’t believe the group would resort to a strike and has no credible reason to feel wronged by the league.
“I don’t think it’ll get to that stage because they will become the most unpopular people in Australia if they did that,” V’landys said, discussing the likelihood of a strike.
“I don’t think any group would put the game at such risk, and their own futures at risk.
“I don’t think the leadership of this association is representative of the referees.
“I think the referees are good people that will not stand in the way of the game commencing,” he said.
When discussing the PRLMO’s claim the NRL breached the CBA by the way the change was communicated, V’landys said the claim had no grounds and the NRL had spent more than enough time discussing the change with referees.
“I think that’s complete rubbish, first off they accused that there was no consultation,” V’landys said.
“Well under the agreement the consultation is supposed to occur after a firm decision was made, the firm decision was actually made last night, nevertheless we consulted them before.
“So not only did they get consultation before, they also got consultation afterward because (NRL head of football) Graham Annesley spent a considerable amount of time with the referees today explaining the decision,” he said.