Refereeing for the FANS

Refereeing for the FANS

What is the best way to referee a game?

Would you rather see everything pulled up, guaranteeing nothing gets through, or more flow to the game with the occasional infringement getting by?

Would you rather have a referee miss an infringement, or call something that wasn’t there?

We have all watched “that game” where it feels more like an “umpire” sport, where we give them two teams to ref as opposed to two teams playing a game of footy. Occasionally officials seem to be looking for infringements like a police officer short on their traffic fine quota, resulting in players being rewarded with penalties for milking and others unnecessarily placed on report.

Match Officials are without doubt the most powerful people on the field. The game can quickly be taken out of the players’ hands, with one blow of the whistle. In this day and age where teams are so clinical and clubs closer than ever, momentum has never been more important. Anyone who has played football (or any sport for that matter) understands the importance of momentum within a game. Kicking into touch giving your team a rest, a 40/20, a try before half time, a repeat set, defending your goal line, keeping a team scoreless in the first half, these are all great examples of building or defusing momentum.

However arguably the most influential momentum builder or killer is a PENALTY. Pigging backing a team out of defensive territory with a penalty late in the count, providing a team an extra set in attacking territory or giving a team the opportunity to take two points securing an 8-point lead, these can decide a teams fate.

When officials over referee a game it always ends in controversy, with a team receiving one or more soft penalties awarding them momentum. This became apparent once again on Anzac day, where the Roosters went down by 2 to the Dragons. Trent Robinson’s slam on the Bunker after his side loss to the Dragons, has been well documented. For those that may have missed it, here is a link Trent Robinson slams Bunker

Although the Rooster’s coach directed most of the brunt at referee Ben Cummins, he, for the most part made some well-constructed points. Robinson went on to emphasise two ugly facts about our game.

  1. Diving or staying down in order to receive a penalty is becoming more prevalent
  2. The Bunker is becoming overinvolved in the play of the game

Players lying down for the penalty is something I have written about in several of my last posts. I feel strongly about it, and in my opinion getting up after being hit is what separates (or use to) Rugby League from almost every other sport. Nowadays more and more players are lying down after a hit, waiting for the penalty. Trent Robinson goes on to mention Jonathon Thurston taking countless hits only to rise and play on. We also seen Paul Gallen disadvantaged several weeks ago, against the Tigers when he did not fall to the ground when obstructed.

However these penalties are not just awarded because a player fails to get up, what entails is a review of the contact by “The Bunker” who then adjudicates a penalty and whether to place the contact on report.

 “The bunker decided to be the on-field ref today. They jumped in at every occasion. They’re not the match review committee.”

these were just a few of Trent Robinson’s words after the Anzac Day clash.

It is now a regular occurrence for play to stop while small passages of play are reviewed and decisions made, that otherwise take the match review committee hours or days. Unfortunately it all but decided the fate of the Roosters Vs. Dragons clash on Anzac Day.

“We’re not saying we should have won today. I’m saying we should have had a chance to win today” powerful words from Trent Robinson.

The diving combined with the Bunker’s over involvement are steering our game in the wrong direction. Unfortunately our toughest players are no longer rewarded for their heroism, instead disadvantaged by it.

The majority of the calls officials miss or are not certain on, are usually minor and soon forgotten as play continues. This style of adjudication reduces stoppages, which form part of the game we are already trying to reduce.

I prefer to watch a game decided by the players, where officials merely keep the game in check and more importantly flowing.










On Report

On Report

Currently when a player has a moment of misconduct the opposition team is awarded a penalty and the player is placed on report. This sees them basically face a Court where they defend their actions and face penalties based on a demerit point system, a lot like your driving license.

This system gives the NRL an opportunity to take the time to make an informed decision about the charge, while giving the player and club a chance to mount a defense for the action. Basically it is our judicial system.

The part that I feel is incorrect is that the opposing team on the day is awarded nothing more than a penalty, while the teams in the coming weeks will face a side without the offending player. It really provides a disadvantage to the violating team more so than an advantage to the opposing team on the day.

All in all in it is pretty good system and I am not trying to pick it apart, but what if the player was sin binned for 3 minutes for a violation. Giving the opposition potentially 2 attacking sets a man up. It would give the opposition a valuable chance at capitalizing and posting points. Imagine the expansive attacking football during this period.

Perhaps a penalty and an extra man would provide too much advantage, but in my opinion it would be no more advantageous than the teams receive in the following weeks facing a Thurstonless Cowboys or a Tigers side without Tedesco?

Your thoughts……..

If I Could……….

If I Could……….

If you were the most powerful person in rugby league what would you do?

If you do but one thing what would it be?

I pose the following questions, what would you bring back, what would you change and what would you get rid off.

While I love the game and on the whole I could not write a long list of changes, there are 3 things I would like to see altered.



Shoulder Charges, bring them back. There are more people getting concussions then ever and I don’t see the shoulder charge as the culprit. The real problem is contact with the head. Solution, make it an instant suspension for 3 weeks for any contact with the head and put the matter to rest.



I would change the obstruction rule, it is hopeless and just results in players diving. I thought for a brief moment we had it right but it appears not. Continually players make no attempt to play on, instead falling to the ground like an English Premier League game. I saw this when the Sharks played the Tigers. While Paul Gallen didn’t drop to the ground like a sniper had shot him, he did throw his hands in the air and failed to play on. If he continued the chase he may have stopped the try, or at worst gave the Officials enough evidence to show that he couldn’t get to the ball carrier. In Gallens defense this came after the Sharks were disallowed a try at the other end for an obstruction. Give the team with the ball the benefit of the doubt and make the defensive team play to the whistle.



Diving……….. No Surprises

This is not a rule that I can change, but I would pay money to have it removed out of the modern game. If you stay down to receive a penalty you should have to go off. This would see only serious offences getting brought to light. It is boring watching every player stay down trying to milk a penalty for a clip on the chin. The modern players wouldn’t run on to the field if they played 20 years ago. Im not saying bring back the biff or play a “grubs” game. I’m simply saying if you are not hurt GET UP.

Capitalising on Concussions

Capitalising on Concussions

Its in our DNA to take short cuts and try to get what we want while doing as little as possible, it is what sells lottery tickets.

All players in all teams exploit the rules. How many tries have been disallowed due to defending players diving when decoys brush past them. Countless players now stay down feigning injury after any foul play, only to receive a penalty and then fall back in to line UNINJURED. However these are issues for another day.

I’m calling it early and I hope for the game I am wrong, but I believe before the final siren of 2016 atleast one NRL team will exploit the concussion test to get a free interchange. With interchanges reduced by 2, most teams are utilizing all 8 changes with plenty of time left to play.

What a game changer it could be to give a tired forward a 10-minute break and get a fresh set of legs on the field in a tight one with 15 to go, or bringing in a utility player when scores are all tied up with 5 left, to have them kick a field goal while the opposition swarm towards a Cooper Cronk or Adam Reynolds.

I pray it doesn’t happen, but with players ever so wiling to take a dive for a penalty it is a question of who not when.