A man who has dedicated his time to both handling matches as well as the training and education of referees - William Drury - is the 2023 NSWRL Denis Braybrook Community Official of the Year.
The amount of work accumulated by Drury over the past 34 years led to the NSWRLRA (NSW Rugby League Referees Association) selecting him for this year’s award.
It honours the late Denis Braybrook, who in 1986 became the first NSWRLRA full-time referees co-ordinator. (Drury is pictured above with Therese Braybrook.)
“William is an impressive individual on and off the field,” Greg McCallum, the Executive Officer of the NSWRLRA, told nswrl.com.au
“He never varies in his commitment to refereeing – he’s been 100 per cent whether it’s with the whistle in hand or whether he’s coaching and training others.”
Drury has been a long-standing coach of the NSW South Coast Group 7 Referees Association. He is also a life member of Group 7 referees.
He has also president of the CRLRA (Country Rugby League Referees Association) until it amalgamated with the NSWRLRA in 2021. Drury now sits on that board of directors.
“He is also head of coaching and development across our various referees associations too so it’s a pretty full load he carries, and he does that very well,” McCallum said.
“It’s often tougher refereeing in regional areas than in the city as you might have three or four hours travel to get to a game.
“So his weekends would be full of refereeing his own games and then going out to watch others referee theirs.
“The people winning the Denis Braybrook award over the past few years have been very strong off the field with their time and effort, but William is strong on the field as well.”
Drury has handled more than 300 games but had no idea he had been nominated among the dozen applications the NSWRLRA received for the 2023 award.
“The fact he is on the board meant he had to stand down while the other directors made the decision,” McCallum said.
“And in the end it was an easy decision for a person with such input and support for referees, who love the game as much as the players.”