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This weekend, referees across all junior and senior competitions will wear black armbands as a mark of respect for the recent passing of former CRRL Chairman Noel Bissett.

There will also be a minute silence before all senior competitions (CRRL Cup, George Tooke Shield and Katrina Fanning Shield).

Bissett was a referee pioneer, who refereed 275 Country first grade matches including a record 11 local first grade grand finals.

Directly involved in rugby league for over 50 years as a player, referee and an administrator, Bissett’s influence is greatly felt across the entire Canberra rugby league community.

Phillip Stuart has been part of the CDRL Referees Association since 1980, the same year he became a referee. Stuart refereed with Bissett, and says that he was always willing to lend a helping hand.

“Noel was one of those referees that if you had a problem you could go to him and you could ask him. He was never one that sat back and said go find out yourself. He helped everybody,” Stuart said.

“There’s a lot of guys even standing here tonight that have been mentored by him and coached by him…You can’t praise the man enough. He did things that other people didn’t do and there was a lot of things that went unnoticed a lot of times.”

Stuart is proud that all the referees will be paying tribute to Bissett, something that has been difficult in these COVID-19 times.

“It’s a huge mark of respect… unfortunately with the COVID at the moment we were unable to go to the funeral. It would’ve been an honour to stand guard for him like the Fire brigade did, we couldn’t. We haven’t been able to do anything apart from the grounds and this weekend they will wear the black armbands. In NSW the referees in their first game back paid tribute to him in that way too.”

CDRL Referees Association Chairman Martin Jones says that everyone speaks so highly of Bissett, and is happy to referees can do their bit in honouring Bissett.

“For somebody that’s put so much into the local rugby league community, it’s the least we can do to pay our respects to Noel,” Jones said.

All senior competitions begin this Saturday 25 July, with the Katrina Fanning Shield kicking off from 10:30am.

Full draws can be found here.