August 03, 2018
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Death threats force referee to quit

Australian referee Matt Cecchin plans to quit the sport of Rugby League, after receiving hundreds of death threats for his part in Tonga's controversial semi-final defeat at last year's World Cup.

The Tongans were beaten 20-18 in the match.

Cecchin, who will be in charge of the Penrith Panthers vs Canberra Raiders match this weekend- the 300th NRL match of his career told the Sydney Morning Herald that he will not stick around for too many more.

"I'm done," he said. "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,” he said.

Cecchin's troubles began last November, when he made the call that Tongan fans blame for the narrow loss to England at Mt Smart Stadium.

Forward Andrew Fafita lost the ball just a few metres short of the try-line - Cecchin called a knock-on without video review, others saw it as a strip.

Later that night, Cecchin received a call from NZ Police, warning him of death threats against him and his family.

"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.”

"Imagine if I got the call wrong?"

Cecchin has also borne the brunt of an NRL season where referees have been under attack every week - caught between disgruntled coaches, players and fans, and pressure from above to call games a certain way. 

By Reginald Chandar


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