Assaulted young referee talks others out of boycott

UNITED: Zac Wilson (front), supported by Cameron Shearer, Darran Schultz and Eric Waldron.
UNITED: Zac Wilson (front), supported by Cameron Shearer, Darran Schultz and Eric Waldron. Scott Sawyer

TIGHT-knit local league referees will be back in action on Friday night, thanks largely to Zac Wilson, victim of last weekend's cowardly assault at Calliope.

Local referees had planned to boycott the Calliope matches in a show of solidarity with their 20-year-old mate who was king hit from behind after refereeing last Saturday night.

But crisis talks on Thursday night saw the situation resolved, helped by Mr Wilson's eagerness to show that Gladstone footy was stronger than one idiot's actions.

"I think a boycott will just give one-up to the coward," Mr Wilson said. "We're not hiding, there's no reason to be hiding.

"We can be out there Friday night refereeing, there's no problem with that, boycotting's not the right way to go about it, we need to be out there and be a strong team like we are."

President of Gladstone Referees' Association Darran Schultz said it was important support was shown to the promising young referee, but equally important to send a message that abuse towards officials wouldn't be tolerated.

We've brought in a code of conduct to be adhered to so we can stop the abuse that's happening on the field and overall just bring back a bit of respect for us.

"Initially we were thinking about boycotting the Calliope game... Zac has come back that he is in favour of us not boycotting that game and to present a presence in that we can't be beaten in bullying or assaults throughout," he said.

"A few things that came out of the meeting that we were pushing for is a bit more respect from players, coaching staff and crowd.

"We've brought in a code of conduct to be adhered to so we can stop the abuse that's happening on the field and overall just bring back a bit of respect for us."

QRL Gladstone operations manager Casey Bromilow said the meeting had turned into a positive, with introductions of new procedures to further improve referee safety.

"The referees' association were really good to come out and meet with some representatives from Gladstone rugby league," Mr Bromilow said.



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