Former league referee dies

Tributes have begun flowing in for former rugby league referee and broadcaster Col Pearce, who passed away overnight.

Pearce refereed over 300 first grade matches, including a host of Grand Finals. He also held the whistle for numerous games during the infamous 1968 World Cup.

He later became a rugby league broadcaster, working for Sydney radio station 2UE until the mid 1980?s. At the time, he challenged one of the game's great broadcasters, Frank Hyde, who was working at 2SM at the time.

One of the most respected officials in the game during his time as a first class referee, Pearce would have been 87 next week.

NRL Chief Executive David Gallop said today that all referees in round 14 of the Telstra Premiership will wear black arm-bands as a mark of respect.

?All too often the important contribution of referees is taken for granted," David said. ?Col Pearce was a shining example of what referees stand for and of the credibility they bring to a sport."

ARL Chief Executive Geoff Carr said that Col Pearce was still widely regarded among the best referees of any era.

?Col Pearce held universal respect and total credibility within the game. As a player you always knew where you stood with him and away from the field he was dedicated to maintaining the highest standards in preparing referees and in administering the rules."