Former Super League ref in legal wrangle with the NRL

Former Super League referee Tim Roby is attempting to sue the NRL for unfair dismissal following his departure at the end of 2020.

Now known as Tim Alouani-Roby, the 33-year-old officiated more than 75 games in the UK top flight, including the 2014 Super League Grand Final.

He emigrated to Australia the following year with his partner, treading the same path as fellow ex-Super League refs Russell Smith and Ashley Klein.

After serving as a touch-judge for his first 12 months, he was appointed as an assistant referee for the first time in the NRL in August 2016.

Alouani-Roby went on to take charge of 21 NRL games, though was stood down for a week in 2018 after missing a forward pass as a touch-judge that led to a late Cronulla win against New Zealand Warriors.

He argued he was made a scapegoat following a controversial call at the NRL Nines in 2000, where a try after the hooter was awarded to St George-Illawarra Dragons despite the ball being grounded outside the field of play. Alouani-Roby was the in-goal judge for that game.


This third lawsuit, filed against the NRL in the Federal Court, alleges that he was sacked due to victimisation relating to his union membership and illness-induced fatigue.

He had contracted an illness on a holiday to Vietnam after the 2017 World Cup that affected him physically following his return and he said he felt pressured to perform by new referees boss Bernard Sutton.

A previous claim was thrown out in November 2021, when it was found the NRL had not fired the referee but simply not decided to extend his contract after it expired. He was one of two referees who didn’t have their deals extended into 2021.

The notes of the case found that the contract in place was a genuine agreement between two parties with a fixed end-date, and was used to highlight the importance of contractual terms.

Despite the contract not being renewed against a background of illness and alleged performance issues, it was confirmed that the fixed term contract provided no guarantee of ongoing work.

However, reports Down Under say it was found that the NRL previously made ‘minimal’ adjustments to accommodate Alouani-Roby’s illness, complaining that the referee was ‘being soft’ and that his British accent ‘(wasn’t) helping either'”.

The judgement also revealed a conversation relating to an end of season fitness test, where it was said: “The real reason for the yo-yo test is to make Tim Alouani-Roby aware of his level of fitness within the group. I want to make him feel uncomfortable to the extent he will retire on his own.”

That prompted an appeal, which was thrown out in September 2022, but Alouani-Roby is now seeking to have the dispute re-heard by the Fair Work Commission.

Alouani-Roby is said to now be working in a consultancy role with Sydney Roosters, as well as a job outside of the game.

About James Gordon 7308 Articles
Love Rugby League editor. Founded the website back in 2005. Worked with a range of clubs and sponsors during that time. Also commentates for BBC.

1 Comment

  1. Oh dear, what a thought, linesmen being suspended for not spotting a forward pass! Fecking ell, that would leave Super League without any linesmen or referees.
    There isn’t one who knows what a forward pass is. If they really need to see one, just pick any St Helen’s attack, there’s bound to be at least three and a few so called Flat passes that are just forward passes by any other name and given legitimacy by Sky Sports.
    Let’s just forget the stupid new rules. Tell the Aussies that there is only one set of rules, not theirs or international ones. Nope, all we need are the real rules that the game developed. Offside is offside, not coached or cajoled by Kalvin Klein etc. A ball steal is a ball steal if more than one person was involved in the tackle. Scrums – feck me, I could write a book. READ YOUR OWN RULES RFL. The props make a tunnel by extending one leg. The ball enters this tunnel to be “and here’s a novel thought”, by the Hooker. It has to be rolled in SQUARE to the scrum. Not the second row, not the loose forward, it’s the front row.
    This way the bloody things can be completed for, push if you like, but in line with the rules of the game.
    The play the ball is another. It ain’t hard. You stand up, place the ball on the ground and heel it backwards. It is then in play. Square markers have to just that square on. They cannot interfere with the person playing the ball, nor can he interfer with them. Also the person playing the ball cannot step forwards, sideways, backwards or fly over their fuckin heads. That’s a penalty for moving off the mark.
    Laying on. Geez, this was always gonna be a problem when it started to be a minimum of three men in a tackle. According to the rules, the ref calls Move. It then takes twenty minutes for first the top guy, then the next, the the guy on the bottom, swivels round through a circle, looks at the ref for 10 mins, cleans his fingernails and the gets up. Move means move. All of ya. You have to clear the ruck. Not give twenty three players time to get on side and have a cuppa. Again if someone goes down on a ball and his elbows are on the ground, all you need to do is touch him. A pinkie finger will do, he is then held and obliged to get up promptly and play the ball. Even if there is no one behind him. What you do now is pile in and make a dog pile. Wrong! That’s called flopping and is illegal.
    I can bang on for hours.
    Learn the fuckin rules. Then employ them. Simples.
    Oh and linesmen, you have a flag. If someone is offside, or there is a forward pass it god forbid a foul that the ref missed (never), just raise the flag to horizontal. Stand still. Eventually Mr. Specsavers will realise that the crowd has gone quiet and the play will stop and come back to you. Easy ain’t it. Don’t let Kalvin or the other big boys bully you. Wave your flag with pride. Who knows, it might stop some of the catcalling from the crowd.
    Finally, geez, refs are not personal mates if the players during matches. You are not there to coach, you enforce. So, when the gobshites who constantly chatter at you start up, politely show them a yellow card for abusing the officials. If they do it again, send em off. They do not coach referees.
    Give it a week with proper rules, proper officials and even handed justice and WOW, games a good un.

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