St George Illawarra Dragons handed $10,000 NRL fine for Paul McGregor's referee comments

Expensive comments: Dragons coach Paul McGregor. Picture: John Veage
Expensive comments: Dragons coach Paul McGregor. Picture: John Veage

The NRL has issued St George Illawarra with a breach notice – and a potential fine of $10,000 – after coach Paul McGregor labelled the officiating in Saturday’s loss to Newcastle as “embarrassing” and “incompetent”.

McGregor made the statement in his post-match media conference after the Dragons were upset 21-14 by the Knights. The comments were made referring to the decisions by the NRL’s video referee bunker officials to deny tries to Tim Lafai and Nene Macdonald.

The Dragons released a statement in response to the breach notice on Tuesday afternoon.

“NRL rules state that “no club, club official or player shall, on a public occasion, comment on or with respect to the performance of a match official,” it said.

“The Dragons have five business days to respond to the breach notice and will be making no further comment at this time.”

NRL head of football Brian Canavan said in a statement McGregor’s comments “crossed the line”.

“In simple terms, the rule is that coaches, players and officials should not discuss referees and their performances in the public domain,” Canavan said.

“We have been pragmatic in dealing with instances where comments have been made but the competence and integrity of referees has not been questioned.

“All coaches should be aware that they risk sanctions if they discuss the performance of referees.”

The breach notice follows St George Illawarra being sanctioned by the NRL for a breach of the league’s concussion policy earlier this season.

The Dragons were originally fined $100,000 for their handling of an incident involving Josh Dugan in their win over Cronulla at Southern Cross Group Stadium. St George Illawarra decided not to appeal and eventually accepted a $50,000 fine. 

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