Byatt trio put aside family ties for 80 minutes

Sean Byatt (middle) with brothers Matthew and Robbie after he refereed the Group 9 match between the Tumut Blues and Albury Thunder at Twickenham Oval on Saturday afternoon.

Brothers Matthew and Robbie Byatt might regularly make the headlines for their on-field deeds in the Group 9 competition, but it was middle brother Sean Byatt who was the man-in-charge when his two siblings battled each other at Twickenham Oval on Sunday.

Matt’s Tumut Blues would run out 44-26 winners over Robbie’s Albury Thunder in a fiery contest that had Sean on his toes. 

“There were some big strong shots,” Sean said.

“It was a good game, and the boys had their bit to say, but you have to bite your tongue a little bit and bide your time.

“If you need to blow a penalty, you do, but you don’t really want to do that, you just want to let the boys play footy.”

Sean copped it from the always-vocal Madigan and Hobby Hills, but the 29-year-old has learned to laugh off criticism, knowing full well he will never make everyone happy.

“It’s more of a mentality thing and you don’t want to get abused for it, but it’s part of footy sometimes,” Byatt said.

“You need to build a thick skin and those people behind the fence can yell and scream all about it, but it’s white noise when I’m out there and you do get used to it and you just don’t listen to it.

“Some of the calls are even pretty funny and you might have a laugh at it after the game, but during the game, you need to focus on what’s in front of you.”

The Tumbarumba product said he had always wanted to referee both brothers, but stressed he treated them the same as any other player on the field. 

“A couple of weeks ago, we got the appointments early and when I found out, I thought ‘this is good, it’s a game I wanted to do’,” Byatt said 

“I would never have asked to do it but when they had me down to ref, I thought it was pretty good.

“I just went into it like any other game, obviously before the game, with us being brothers, we had a little chat and things, but I just treated them like they were any other player.”

As far as the contest itself, Matthew might have left Tumut with the win, but Sean believed Robbie was the better of the two on the field.

“I hate to say it, I really hate to say it, but Robbie did play well,” Byatt laughed. 

“He did get a lucky try there in the second half and despite him not being a half back, he did play well – I’ll give him that.”

The Group 9 referee looks to be cementing his place in the top echelon of Group 9 adjudicators, and he hopes to continue building and learning. 

“That’s the end goal, everyone wants to do grand finals, but for me, it’s a week-to-week basis and about learning from mistakes and trying to better my refereeing.”