The NRL has been saddened today following the passing of former NRL referee Paul McBlane.

As a mark of respect following Mr McBlane’s passing, the referees participating in the Auckland Nines this weekend will all wear black arm bands.

Mr McBlane officiated in 97 (6 NSWRL, 55 ARL, 36 NRL) first grade matches, having made his debut in 1994.

“He was one of the original NRL referees,” NRL General Manager Officiating Tony Archer said.

“His referees number was 10 – meaning he officiated in the first round of the National Rugby League competition in 1998.

“He was also one of the first fulltime referees.

“The thoughts of the entire refereeing group go out to Paul’s family.”