Wellbeing visit to former rugby league referee Barry Cross

When Northern Sydney Wellbeing Officers Norm Pounder and Ken Vessey recently visited Men of League Foundation member Barry Cross, aged 84 years, they were privileged to meet a man who has devoted his life to ensuring rugby league was played with fairness, within the rules, to the true spirit of the game and in a practical manner.

Barry began his involvement with rugby league playing with the Wamoon Rugby League Club’s first and reserve grade teams in the Riverina in the early 1950s before becoming linked with the Newport Junior Rugby League Club as a player, official and coach during 1956-58.

He turned to refereeing upon becoming a member of the Manly Warringah Referees Association in 1957 and embarked upon a career during which he controlled games at all levels in junior and schoolboys rugby league, held senior executive positions including being a longstanding Patron of the Association, apart from being awarded Life Membership in 1968 plus Life Membership with Honours in 1978.

Barry was graded Member No.579 by the NSW Rugby League Referees Association and commenced another refereeing experience which saw him referee in seven first grade games in 1973 in addition to reserve and third grade and being a Touch Judge in first grade, Representative City vs Country, Interstate, International Test match, Second Division and President’s Cup competitions. He retired from the Association in 1981 after a long and highly distinguished career which included running the touchline for great referees including Keith Page, Greg Hartley, Dennis Braybrook and Laurie Bruyeres.

Barry has lived alone since the passing of his loving wife Kathleen some years ago and has one daughter, two sons and seven grandsons. His sons Greg and Peter preferred to play rugby league rather than follow their Dad into the refereeing ranks and both had successful first grade playing careers; Greg with Manly Warringah District RLFC and Peter with the North Sydney Bears District RLFC.

We enjoyed a great chat with Barry as he spoke about the past to the present game of rugby league. Barry is currently undergoing treatment for lymphoma. We wished him well in his ongoing treatment and as a token of thanks for his contribution to the development of rugby league we presented him with a Men of League polo shirt.

Barry was most appreciative for our visit, generosity and wished the Men of League Foundation continued success.

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