When it was announced that referee boss Tony Archer was to trial an extra two linesmen and in-goal officials for the Charity Shield game between South Sydney and St George-Illawarra I was perplexed.
Others laughed at the suggestion that we needed that many officials. What do they say about too many cooks…? I guess for fans it gives you four extra people to yell abuse at during the game.
I’ve thought for some years now that our referees are too reliant on video technology and they need to concentrate on making the correct decisions. On-field referees will tell you that they don’t want to get dropped or cost a team at the back end of the year because they made a wrong call when the video replay was available. It’s a mute point. Take a look at North Queensland Cowboys. They will tell you how they were robbed in consecutive year despite the assistance of six officials and video technology to make a decision. Both decisions were wrong and could not be undone ending the Cowboys season prematurely.
A crucial element of the game for a referee is controlling thirty-four players over an eighty minute period. But another important facet of their game is positioning.
In last night’s Super League match between St Helens and Catalans Dragons, Saints winger Adam Swift flirted with the touchline and placed a foot on the paint as he went to score. The linesman was in an excellent position to make a call, not having to rely on a video replay. Replays showed the decision was correct.
If you are in the right position to adjudicate whether it’s near the goal posts or in general play, there shouldn’t be a need for any more than six officials controlling the game.
I personally think six is one too many in the first place as two on-field referee’s can interpret rugby league laws differently. Imagine with another four thrown in to our current six – how much more chaos could there be when it comes to ‘butting’ heads together to make a decision?
A hurdle for an extra four officials if implemented will be the additional costs of running the game through official match fees, hotel accommodation and travel costs. But the major problem will be finding officials who are good enough to be at, and handle the pressure of top level rugby league.
If Archer in his wisdom wants extra officials it would be more practicable to have eight officials per game. Two touch judges, two in goal, two on-field officials and two video officials.
So for the verdict after the Charity Shield?
After four minutes of the game a try was denied to the Dragons from dummy half. The on-field referee despite the assistance of the in goal judge decided to go upstairs and check the decision. The on-field referee indicating it was a try. Replays showed the ball was grounded short.
Just before half time Joel Thompson was denied a try correctly with the on-field official assisted by the in-goal official.
In general play it looked weird having touch judges on the ten metre mark and the ruck. At one stage a turnover occurred. One touch judge was barking instructions to get off the tackled player before scooting back to the ten. The other touch judge came in over the ruck and continued to talk to the players at the ruck.
At that point I concluded a second touch judge wasn’t necessary on either touchline. In-goal judges, yes but four touch judges, no.