Noel Bissett was more than a referee and administrator. He was a pioneer, a friend and a true gentleman of rugby league.
The rugby league community is in mourning following the death of former Canberra Regional Rugby League chairman and referee Bissett on Saturday.
Bissett, a Canberra Raiders life member, was seen as a trailblazer and was widely credited for his significant contributions to the development of the modern-day referee.
He came the first Canberra-based referee to officiate the NSWRL competition and helped develop the video referee system.
Bissett is being remembered as true gentleman and dedicated administrator of rugby league, with Raiders boss Don Furner leading the tributes.
"Noel was a highly respected referee and administrator and had been involved with the game for over 50 years in Canberra and the region," Furner said.
"We have lost a true gentleman a great rugby league man. Noel always popped into the Raiders office and stopped to say hello to everyone.
"No one ever said a bad word about Noel and just as importantly, you never heard Noel say a bad word about anyone."
Bissett was heavily involved with the Canberra District Referees Association and held the position of CRRL chair for 12 years.
His decades-long dedication to the game and commitment to the NSW and ACT fire brigades saw him awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2013. He was also inducted to the ACT Sporting Hall of Fame in 2018.
CRRL chairman Gary Green said his dedication to rugby league can be matched by few others, paying his respects with a touching tribute.
"I have known Noel since my return to Canberra in 1985 and a truer gentlemen you could not meet," Green said.
"Noel lived for rugby league and we will surely be worse off in this great game at his passing.
"He was a very dedicated loyal and passionate person in all aspects of his life
"Our deepest sympathies go out to Noel's wife Lorraine and his family."