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A referee pioneer and a dedicated administrator, former CRRL Chairman Noel Bissett is being remembered for his stellar contribution to rugby league in the Canberra region.

Bissett, who passed away on Saturday, was directly involved in rugby league for over 50 years as a player, referee and an administrator.

Born in 1937, Bissett played in the lower grades for North Sydney Bears during the early 1960’s before moving to Canberra in 1965.

He played for East Canberra the following year, before embarking on his stellar referee career.

Bissett became the first Canberra referee to control first grade in the NSWRL competition. In total, he refereed 275 Country first grade matches, including a record 11 local first grade grand finals. He also officiated touring international sides, and was the video referee for the 1997 tri-series between New Zealand, NSW and Queensland and one of the 1999 State of Origin matches at Lang Park.

Bissett also revolutionised local referee ranks, by creating the first ever referee training manual as well as introducing coaching and training for referees. In 1999 he became the Director of Referees, a position he held nine years.

Today, local referees are awarded the Noel Bissett trophy for most outstanding referee, and the Noel Bissett medal goes to the controlling referee of the local first grade final.

Following his career as a referee, Bissett became involved as an administrator. He served on the CRRL committee for 21 years, and in 2006 became Chairman, retiring from the role in 2018.

Bissett also served as the inaugural president of the Canberra/Monaro Men of League from 2008 up until his passing, and was very active in its organisation of events.

Bissett’s service to rugby league has been extensive, reflected in his five Life Memberships, including being one of only nine Canberra District Rugby League Life Members.

In 2013 he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal and was inducted into the ACT Sporting Hall of Fame in 2018. He was also given the NSWRL Dennis Braybrook Memorial Award for his service to rugby league.

Bissett’s presence will continue to be felt across the Canberra and Regional rugby league community, and we thank him for his dedication and commitment to rugby league.