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Referee who was assaulted whilst officiating a match to take on fundraising challenge for MacMillan Cancer Research

The role of match official is perhaps the toughest job there is in professional sport.

When things go wrong, you’re the first one to be blamed, when thing go right you’re forgotten about and very rarely given the credit you deserve.

Look at Liam Moore’s performance in the Grand Final last year. He had to deal with plenty of controversial incidents and played his part in a top notch Grand Final which ended 12-10 in St Helens’ favour.

Despite that, Catalans Dragons Chairman Bernard Guasch did not hold back in his criticism of Moore stating: “As long as I’m president of the Catalans Dragons, I’ll never play a Super League final again until we have three Australian referees.”

He has since been punished for his actions.

Verbal abuse is bad enough of course, but on rare occasions referees unfortunately have to contend with physical abuse too and sadly that was the case for Joe Stearne who was assaulted physically whilst officiating a match last summer.

However, he has powered through the incident to take on an exciting challenge in the new year in the name of a good cause.

Stearne will be running from Old Trafford – home of the Super League Grand Final and the 2022 World Cup Final – all the way to West Yorkshire on January 8th to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Research.

He’s been inspired by his partner Charlotte. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2020 but has since had the all clear, but this hasn’t changed Stearne’s willingness to help cancer sufferers across the country by taking on this huge challenge.

On taking on this lengthy run across the country, Stearne told the RFL’s website: “She’s been so strong, and that pure strength has inspired me for another challenge to try raise some much-needed funds for MacMillan to help support families who need them like we did.”

“It’s going to be painful, but nothing like the pain which cancer patients go through every day.”

He’s received support from fellow official Liam Moore who said: “Joe is taking on a tough challenge but all his refereeing colleagues are backing him to do it, for such a good cause. I hope Rugby League fans will support him.”

You can support Joe with donations here.

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