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How to get Consistency back into Refereeing

In any sport the referees are blamed for pretty much everything that goes wrong when the team you support loses. Even when it is a lack of skill or concentration from a player, us supporters will always take it back to the last refereeing error and say, “if the ref had made the right call back then this wouldn’t have happened”, etc. etc.

For eight years all Queenslanders have heard South of the boarder is, “the stupid refs sucked tonight…that was the worst call ever…GI knocked it on, that’s not a try…Hodges ran behind Hannant, that’s an obstruction”. And now this year it’s NSW’s turn to hear a mouthful.

It’s been spoken about a lot since the uneventful game which was State of Origin II. Gordon Tallis put it down to the fact that the referees had lost control of the match. I totally agree with him. Vossy, has also suggested to bring back the 5 minute sin-bin in addition to the 10 minute sin-bin, or even make it a 4 and 8 minute stint on the sidelines. An idea that I like also.
But what I really think is that there needs to be a total overhaul of the refereeing system. Here’s what I think needs to be done:

  1. We need to have a chief referee. Take the whistle off the other bloke.

I liked the idea the NRL had of bringing in the second referee to clean up the ruck, but they took it too far and gave him too much responsibility. If he is there to clean up the ruck, then that is all he has to do. He has an ear piece and can tell the chief referee when a knock on, hand in the ruck, crusher tackle, high tackle, etc happens, anything to do with the tackle is his domain.

  1. The video referee needs his decision making powers revoked.

There have been some absolute howlers this year. I was cheering when benefit of the doubt was replaced, but the process they replaced it with is in my opinion a job half done. There is always going to be a difference of opinion between two people. In my view the NRL need to adopt the method used in rugby union. I don’t know why they didn’t just do it in the first place, PRIDE I guess. But I love the fact that the on field referee who has the best sense of what has gone on makes the call. When he sends it upstairs, the video referee doesn’t make up his own mind, he doesn’t even state his opinion. If it’s a simple try, no try ruling he tells the on field referee he can award the try. If it is a little more of a complex situation then the video referee acts more like a consultant telling the on field referee what he sees that could give evidence for, or against awarding a contentious try. But in the end of the day it is the on field referee who makes the last decision.

In a way it’s like the NFL, they have a bunch of referees but only one ‘chief’ referee. If they see something they throw the flag, they tell the chief referee and he makes the call. Now we don’t need flags in the NRL or rugby league in general, but the idea of a chief referee who makes all the final decisions is the way to go. At least one referee will be more consistent throughout a game of footy than the four decision makers (2 on field, 2 video) we have at the moment.

  1. The touch judges need to do something.

I’m sure they do more than watch the side lines and wave their flags for conversions. And hopefully what I say next isn’t what they do because I don’t see them doing it much. So one touch judge needs to be in line with the play the ball to watch for forward passes out of dummy half (Farrah and Ennis are serial offenders). This touch judge will follow the play up the field the whole time the team is in possession looking for forward passes and knock-ons etc. the other touch judge is in line with the defending team back the 10m. His responsibility is to inform the chief referee if any player has left early and is offside.

Now I’m sure I may have missed a few things here or there. The goal of this system was to get some consistency back into the game, and I believe that if there is only one decision maker for the course of the game we will see less inconsistencies.


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