McDonell Retires on Top

On Wednesday afternoon, Penrith Referees and NRL Emerging Squad member Lawrence McDonell announced that he would retire from the game effective immediately. McDonell joined the Penrith Referees Association in 1998 and over the next seventeen years he demonstrated an exceptional work ethic and commitment to refereeing that saw him progress through various levels of the game and ultimately make his debut in the National Rugby League in Round 4 of the 2015 season as NRL Official number 135.

During his tenure as an active official in the Penrith District, McDonell came to be recognised as one of the Association’s leading officials and oversaw some of the most important fixtures the District had to offer. McDonell spent a number of years making regular appearances as a referee in the A Grade Division One competition, which also saw him control a number of finals fixtures. He was a consistent member of the Association’s Development Squad and became a leader and integral part of the Association both on and off the field. In 2008 he was awarded the prestigious Bob Kandelas Trophy having been voted the ‘Referee’s Referee’ by his peers.


In 2010, as a member of the NSWRLRA Junior Representative Squad, McDonell was appointed to referee the SG Ball Grand Final and soon after, he was graded to the NSWRLRA as member number 947. McDonell’s talent and dedication were again recognised in the years that followed when he was added to the NRL Emerging Match Officials Squad. He went on to officiate in a large number of Holden Cup, NSW Cup and Ron Massey Cup Matches as a referee. He also displayed his ability with the flag, appointed to two consecutive Holden Cup Grand Finals as a touch judge (2014,15). McDonell featured in a total of 9 National Rugby League fixtures as a Touch Judge before announcing his retirement this week.

In announcing his retirement, McDonell stated, “It is time for me to spend more time with my little family and ensure they get the best of me. The game of Rugby League has given me a lot, but it also takes.” Numerous members of the Rugby League community, including past and present coaches and colleagues took to social medial to express their affection and well wishes for Lawrence. He finished by saying, “I end my career as a referee all the better for the experience and I have absolutely no regrets.”

The Penrith Referee’s Association sincerely thanks Lawrence McDonell for his service to Rugby League both in the Penrith District and the wider Rugby League Community and wishes him and his family all the best for the next chapter of their lives.

Lawrence McDonell

Year Joined Penrith Referee's Association: 1998

Year Graded to NSWRLRA: 2010

NSWRLRA Grade Number: 947

NRL Debut: Round 4, 2015. St George-Illawarra Dragons v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, WIN Stadium, Wollongong

NRL Number: 135

Total NRL Appearances: 9

Career Highlights: Holden Cup Grand Final Touch Judge (2014,15); SG Ball Grand Final Referee (2010).