Vale Max Tomsett

Vale Max Tomsett

Max Tomsett, dubbed “The Prince of Touch Judges”, passed away on the 20th May 2016 after a long battle with cancer.

Max’s record as an Association Member is unsurpassed in the very long history of Balmain Referees Association and he made a huge contribution to the New South Wales Rugby League Referees’ Association.

Max Tomsett – Image curtesy of NSWRLRA


On the administrative side he carried out many roles – Social Secretary, Secretary for 3 years, President for 6 years, all of which were performed with the sole idea of advancing Balmain and its Members. 

His outstanding contribution in this regard was formally recognised on no less than 8 occasions by receiving the Tom Downey Award for Outstanding Service to the Association.

On the active side of things Max’s record was outstanding. 

Max progressed to Grade after being the leading ranked District Referee for 5 years and officiating in the Centre in the Jersey Cup Final and President’s Cup Semi-Final. 

Max progressed to refereeing Reserve Grade but his major contribution came in his role as a Touch Judge.

In this respect, Max “ran the line” in some 308 First Grade games as well as numerous appointments to International and Interstate matches. 

One of his most cherished memories is being appointed as a Touch Judge to the inaugural State of Origin game at Lang Park in 1980, an experience he described “as like no other.” 

When Max retired at the end of the 1983 Season he had the extraordinary record of having officiated as a Touch Judge in 9 First Grade Grand Finals between 1975 and 1983. 

Max’s record demonstrates that Max achieved absolutely everything that a Referee can within the game:

First Grade Games 309 matches as Touch Judge

Grand Finals 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 – Reserve Grade 1973 and 1974

Test Matches 1974, 1978, 1979

Midweek Cup Grand Final 1975, 1976 (AMCO Cup), 1981 (Tooth Cup), 1982 (KB Cup)

Interstate Series 1973

State of Origin 1980 (Inaugural State of Origin Game)

NSW vs Tourists 1977, 1978

Max quite rightly received Life Membership honours from both Balmain and NSW Referees Association.

In 2013, in recognition of the tremendous contribution made to Touch Judging by this “Prince of Touch Judges” Balmain instituted the “Max Tomsett Award” to recognise those two Members adjudged to be the top Touch Judges for a particular season. 

Max was on hand to make the presentation to the initial recipients.

In the Balmain Referees Association’s Centenary Season in 2015, Max was one of the inaugural inductees into the Balmain Referees Association Hall of Fame. 

Furthermore, Max’s outstanding on-field career was recognised when Max was named as one of the Balmain Referees Association’s Greatest Ever Referee’s at our Centenary Dinner.

However, perhaps Max’s greatest contribution to the game of Rugby League was as a Coach & mentor. 

During his time as a NSWRL Touch Judge Coach, Max mentored & guided many of the games great referees & touch judges.

As we remember Max Tomsett, we acknowledge Max as a great mentor, coach, referee & man. 

The Balmain Referees Association, the NSWRLRA and the Game of Rugby League have lost a giant of our game, an absolute legend and a true gentleman.

Our condolences to Max’s family and many, many friends.

Frank Leonard – Executive Officer, NSWRLRA

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