- Publish Date
- Friday, 3 August 2018, 11:30AM
NRL referee Matt Cecchin says police warned him of hundreds of death threats after he disallowed a try that would have helped Tonga beat England in the Rugby League World Cup last November.
The leading referee told The Sydney Morning Herald he was in an Auckland bar when the police rang with the chilling message: "We've contacted your family members because they have been targeted as well. Don't leave the hotel. We will pick you up and take you to the airport. Back in Australia, you'll be picked up by the Australian Federal Police."
Cecchin said that earlier that night NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg had congratulating him for making the brave — and correct — decision in the final minutes to disallow a try to Tongan prop Andrew Fifita after the ball was stripped from him near the tryline.
Cecchin didn't refer the decision to the video referee but made the call himself.
"My son got hit, my partner got hit and my mum got hit with death threats," Cecchin, 44, told the SMH.
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"I started thumbing through my phone and there were more than a thousand messages. They were vile. I've never had that before in my whole career, even after Origins and grand finals. When I got home to Sydney, our house was put on alert. I was picked up from the airport by the AFP. It was really, really serious. I don't like attention as a referee. I want to do my job without any fuss and then leave. The reality is that after that game, and for the first chunk of this year with all the noise that's been out there, it's been tough. Really, really tough."
Cecchin who will referee his 300th NRL game this Sunday when Penrith play Canberra at Panthers Stadium is planning to quit the job.
He might head to the Super League in the UK, otherwise he won't referee again and he won't stay involved with rugby league.
"I'm done," he says.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is reproduced here with permission.