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Touch footy referee almost dies after coward punch during game, with former NRL ref calling out act

Horrific moment paramedics rush to save the life of footy ref who almost died and was left frothing at the mouth from a seizure after getting ‘COWARD PUNCHED’ by a player during a game

  • Touch referee Jason Fernie was allegedly attacked from behind in a social game 
  • It left the 49-year-old who is ‘lucky to be alive’ with a brain bleed and seizures 
  • Ex-NRL referee Gavin Badger condemned the horrible attack
  • Police are imploring witness who saw the alleged assault to come forward 

A touch footy referee suffered seizures and a brain bleed after allegedly being coward punched from behind while officiating a social game in Brisbane. 

Jason Fernie was refereeing a social game of touch footy on Monday night at Brothers St Brendan’s in the Brisbane suburb of Rocklea when he was allegedly punched in the head from behind by a member of a team called ‘The Grubbies’.

He was knocked unconscious, suffered a seizure and was foaming at the mouth on the field before being treated by paramedics. The 49-year-old also suffered a brain bleed.

Touch footy referee Jason Fernie (pictured) was knocked out during a social game when he was allegedly coward punched by a player

Fernie said it has been a hard few days since the attack and he feels lucky to be alive.

‘I don’t remember much of the second half, if any at all – obviously I got hit and woke up in hospital,’ he told 9News.

‘I was discussing something with one of the players, and this guy has just come from behind and got me.

‘The doctor said one punch kills, so I’m lucky I’m alive, really. The pain on the head is just throb, throb, throb all the time.’

Former NRL referee Gavin Badger (pictured sending off Matt Prior in 2012) was disgusted by the alleged attack

Former NRL referee Gavin Badger (pictured sending off Matt Prior in 2012) was disgusted by the alleged attack

Ex-NRL referee Gavin Badger, who officiated over 300 games at the top level, condemned the cowardly act. 

‘What is wrong with people?? Referees of any sport are lovers of that game and just want to stay involved and give back,’ he wrote on Twitter. 

‘Social sports are meant to be fun for all, please think about that next time you are about to have a shot at someone giving up their time for you to play.’

Badger now works for the NSWRL, and is a consultant at the West Tigers.

Jason Fernie sported a swollen lip and was foaming at the mouth after the incident

Jason Fernie sported a swollen lip and was foaming at the mouth after the incident

Gavin Badger (left) with wife Kasey Badger (right), who still referees at NRL level

Gavin Badger (left) with wife Kasey Badger (right), who still referees at NRL level

Fernie said it was ‘touch and go’ whether he’d return to the refereeing ranks, and implored people to treat referees fairly, saying, ‘no ref, no game’. 

‘Yes, we get it wrong now and then, but to punch a ref is just uncalled for … respect the ref,’ he said.

Queensland paramedics treat Jason Fernie on the field after he was punched from behind

Queensland paramedics treat Jason Fernie on the field after he was punched from behind

Footy fans flocked to social media to condemn the alleged attack, with many indicating they had seen similar incidents.

‘Was threatened by a parent … recently … he was determined to knock me out. It was a grade 9 match for a Brisbane Broncos challenge. I gave up time with my family so the boys could play, makes me want to quit,’ one user wrote. 

‘I ref social touch at Queens Park and some of the abuse I have copped over the years is a joke,’ another wrote. 

Another commenter said ‘incidents like this … drive people away from refereeing all sports.’

Organisers of the competition are working with police to investigate the incident, with the player involved allegedly coming from a team that call themselves ‘The Grubbies’.

No one has been arrested for the incident, but police are imploring witnesses who were present at the game to come forward. 



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