Bill Harrigan

Bill Harrigan, motivational speaker and Australian sports and NRL icon

Whilst most people have an opinion on Bill Harrigan acknowledged as Australia's finest sporting official, very few people really know him.

Although now retired Bill was and is the best referee the game of Rugby League has ever known.

He has a profile equal to the major players. It was quoted in the Australian publication 'Rugby League Week' that the four most prominent names in rugby league at the time were Brad Fittler, Andrew Johns, Gordon Tallis and Bill Harrigan.

Having refereed a record number of Grand Finals, State of Origins, Test matches and first grade games it is without doubt that he has played his own part of the most spectacular matches in rugby league history. Bill has seen the games best players up close - often in his face.

But there is more to Bill Harrigan than the game.

From growing up in Sydney's western suburbs to dealing with hardened criminals and life threatening situations as an elite police officer with the NSW tactical response group and the special weapons and operations squad, he has seen the best and the worst life has to offer.

Upon retiring from his high profile refereeing role Bill spent twelve months in a ground breaking move with the Sydney City Roosters as their consultant. In 2005 Bill returned to the NRL as a referees consultant and is the CEO of Australian Oztag . Along with his high demand of media commitments Bill Harrigan is very much now considered as one of the games best advisers.

A family man of more complexity and sensitivity than the figure often presented in the media, a two time winner of Australia's prestigious 'Official of the Year" Sports Award and more recently a best selling author with his autobiography 'HARRIGAN', Bill will give you a true insight to what drives him to success on and off the field.

Bill Harrigan is now regarded as one of Australia's leading motivational speakers . He is living proof that if you set your goals and follow them with commitment and dedication, you can achieve great results in whatever you choose to do.

This is your chance to get to know the real Bill Harrigan. He will captivate you with his on field recollections and will motivate you with his determination to be only the "very best".

Refereeing profile, all records.

§ 393 First Grade Games
§ 21 State of Origin
§ 25 Test Matches
§ 10 Grand Finals

'What can we say about Bill Harrigan? There is only one. A unique and thoroughly enjoyable experience is to be had when you come face to face with the most talked about referee of our time. As he was when he officiated on the paddock, Bill Harrigian is thoroughly professional and an eloquent speaker on the challenges, incidents and joys of his careers and life in general".
Pam Shelton President CMAA Brisbane.

'I could not think of anyone better than Bill Harrigan, given his profile at the time and given his exceptional work ethic and focus on keeping fit'.

'It became apparent and obvious to me that Bill was also wonderfully gifted at public speaking and had the ability to draw a crowd in and keep their interest for long periods of time'.

'Bill's address was first class and best-practice: he did not refer to any notes and engaged everyone in attendance including those that knew about Rugby League and those that did not'.
'I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending Bill Harrigan to anyone or any company who required a Key Note speaker or someone to address a group in any capacity. His delivery and execution are first class'
Darren Grace Senior National Business Manager Woolworths Meadow Lea Foods

'I look forward to the opportunity of working with you again and should the situation arise I would happily put you forward for appearance at a corporate or social event that needed a personality who has a message' .
Angie Morrisby Straight 2

'Bill Harrigan exceeded our expectations as a captivating and engaging speaker at the A.B. Paterson College Corporate Breakfast in May this year. At such an early hour, Bill wasted no time in rousing the audience, managing to delight and enthuse with his genuine warmth and energetic story-telling ability'.

'His anecdotes were always entertaining and, on a number of occasions, we felt as though we were right in the moment, drawn onto the field with him!'
A.B. Paterson College

Unafraid of controversy and determined to speak the truth, he is just as much a character off the field as he was on.

Bio 2

William James Harrigan was born in Sydney in 1960, and grew up in the western suburbs.

He joined the Police Force in 1979, where he spent 17 years. Most of his career was spent in the Tactical Response Group (TRG), dealing with riots & hostage situations, and where he trained as a negotiator. His last 5 years were in the Witness Security Unit, from where he left the force, as a sergeant, to become a professional Rugby League referee.

Bill started refereeing by accident in 1977, officiating in the rough and tumble world of a Western Sydney pub competition. It was here that he developed a love for the role that would see him become our finest sporting official.

Bill was graded to the NSWRL Referees in 1983, and made his First Grade debut in 1986.

In the intervening years, Bill has gone on to officiate in over 380 First Grade matches, 9 Grand Finals, 22 Test Matches and 21 State of Origin Matches (plus 2 during the Super League war). His record continues to grow.

Bill is married to Lesley, has 4 wonderful sons, and lives in Sydney.


Bill Harrigan official website

Sports Speakers

Football Legends



NRL chief admits Harrigan may quit, by By Steve Mascord - 1st October 2003
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)


NRL chief executive David Gallop says he wouldn't be surprised if referee Bill Harrigan retired after Sunday night's grand final.

Rumours that the game's most decorated match official plans to give the game away have gathered momentum since he announced the release of a biography next Tuesday.

Asked if he would be surprised if Harrigan quit, Gallop said: "No.

"He's talked to me about making a decision in the off-season so we've certainly talked about it.

"I told him I've got some misgivings about him publishing a book before his career finishes.

"While it's his decision, naturally he's going to please some people and upset others, and that might not necessarily be a wise thing to do before his career finishes.

"But that's not trying to encourage him to retire."

Harrigan was under pressure from Tim Mander to win Sunday's appointment, but when Gallop was asked if an imminent retirement would have counted in Harrigan's favour, he said: "Absolutely not."

Referees coach Robert Finch said that while "David knows Bill better than me", he did not think Harrigan was planning to leave the game.

"Given how he has been talking this week, I would be surprised if he quit, yes," Finch said.

Harrigan and other NRL referees are not allowed to speak to the media during the finals.

Suggestions that the man who will control a record seventh consecutive grand final at Telstra Stadium on Sunday is favoured for two post-season appointments are only muddying the waters.

Harrigan is thought to be first in line to control the New Zealand-Australia Test at North Harbour Stadium, Auckland on October 18 and the Great Britain-Australia game in Hull's KC Stadium on November 15.

Grand finalists Sydney Roosters have signed Manly five-eighth Luke Dorn for next season.

Meanwhile, Panthers fullback Rhys Wesser says he never seriously entertained joining the Roosters in mid-season, when he was off contract and heavily linked to them.

"Not seriously," he said. "That was an option . . .I was always going to stay a Penrith boy. My heart's at Penrith and all my friends are here."

Both teams are unchanged for Sunday's game, with Shannon Hegarty (ribs/hip) cleared by the Roosters and Tony Puletua (knee) missing Penrith training but not in doubt.

Australia and Cronulla coach Chris Anderson's rivalry with the premiers' boss, Ricky Stuart, flaring again yesterday.

Commenting on Anderson's contention that the Penrith forwards were capable of running over the top of the Roosters, Stuart told reporters: "It's not surprising coming from Chris. I think he'd do anything for us to get beaten this weekend."

Anderson, for his part, has suggested Penrith five-eighth Preston Campbell is in the running for the Kangaroo tour. "If he plays good at the end of the season, he'll obviously put himself in the window," Anderson said.

Wests Tigers have switched their home game against the Warriors next year to Jade Stadium, Christchurch.

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Media Man Australia publicly congratulates Bill Harrigan for assisting in raising awareness to worthy causes such as beyondblue and National Breast Cancer Foundation