Love him or hate him, Bill Harrigan was the best rugby league referee in the world. And if you don't believe that, just ask him... he'll tell you.
Today Bill is one of the most prominent and successful speakers and MCs on the circuit. Bill Harrigan will keep you totally entertained with his amazing and spellbinding police and refereeing stories from all over the world, as well as with his motivational and leadership qualities. Bill guarantees you a damn good laugh with his larrikin wit.
Hailing from Sydney's western suburbs, Bill's positive attitude and motivation qualities have steered him to the top. As a young kid, his ambition was to pursue a career as a professional, important, respected man with letters after his name, so Bill became a member of the Police Special Weapons and Operations Unit (SWOS), and then a top international referee, thus realising his ambitions as a professional, important, respected man, and according to some fans, with "letters after his name".
But love him or hate him, Bill Harrigan has refereed 393 games in 17 years as a first grade referee; even the most hardened rugby league fanatic would have to give whistleblower Bill Harrigan his due recognition.
As a member of the NSW Police Force, Harrigan was offered a challenging role with the Tactical Response Group (TRG). He then worked for the Special Weapons and Operations Section/Witness Protection Unit and finally as a police negotiator. It was here that he learned important lessons in arbitration and conflict resolution, attributes that have proved to be vital skills in life and on the rugby league field.
With the background and training with the TRG, Bill is still dedicated to a very strict training routine. Regular runs through the National Park at Sutherland and grueling beach side and gym workouts still has Bill just as fit as he was when refereeing. Who could forget watching Harrigan arrive at the in-goal area with runaway try scorers, whistle in mouth, waiting for the ball to be put down?
Becoming a referee all came by default when his Fairvale High School football coach volunteered him for the NSW Rugby League Referees course, as no one from the school wanted to volunteer. After gaining his official referees ticket he got his chance to mediate in a local pub competition. He earned the attention of refereeing officials and was asked to join the Parramatta District Referees Association and his career blossomed from there. He was officially graded in 1983 and on the 19th May 1986 Bill made his first grade debut. Bill retired after the 2003 Grand Final completing a legendary record breaking career. 393 first grade games, 10 grand finals in 1989, '90, '91, '97, '98, '99, 2000, '01, '02 and '03; 21 State of Origins; two Super League Tri Series; 22 Test matches including the blockbuster deciding test in 1994 between Great Britian and Australia. His international credits include going to England and refereeing the English Super League in 1996 finishing with the European Cup Final and the 2005, 06 and 07 Papua New Guinea grand finals.
In 2011 Bill was appointed to the head coach role of the NRL referees. His experience and expertise in refereeing made it a logical choice.
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. A ... keep readings 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. 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. Snr Nat Business Mngr, 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.
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!