The battle between the NRL and the referees will head to arbitration after mediation talks between the parties spectacularly broke down.
The referees union, the Professional Rugby League Match Officials Incorporated (PRLMO), and the governing body spent more than three hours locked in conciliation talks at the Fair Work Commission today.
Proposals and counterprososals were tabled and rejected, leaving the parties at an impasse just nine days away from the scheduled resumption of the NRL season. The legality of the NRL’s changes to the rules and refereeing structure will now be decided by an arbitrator, an extraordinary and unexpected obstacle to restarting the competition.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys has deftly got all stakeholders on board for the May 28 resumption including the government, health authorities, clubs, the players and even broadcasters. But the PRLMO hasn’t ruled out industrial action over the plan to revert to one referee per game for the first time in over a decade.