Could the officials be given more help? Luke Dorn looks at a referee's lot

Last Updated: 25/03/14 9:19am

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Tackling the issue: The speed of the game can lead to mistakes in techniques

Tackling the issue: The speed of the game can lead to mistakes in techniques

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It is fair to say that the punishment doesn't always fit the crime in rugby league. There is a leniency and not all offences seem to be treated equally in what is already an extremely physical and at times brutal sport.

I don't think there is a big enough deterrent to stop players committing some offences, either. Whether it is a deliberate act or not we need to stamp certain things out of our game.

Perhaps the first thing that would help is more sentences to be dished out on the field. But referees are human after all, and it is a super hard job that they undertake each week. It is certainly one I do not envy - I have absolutely no interest in being a ref! They don't, though, always get a huge amount of help.

When you are five minutes into a game and there are 10,000 people watching inside the ground, it is an intimidating situation in which to ask a referee to make a big call if there has been an act of gross misconduct.

Video help

In my opinion, we need a video referee at all Super League games. Either that, or don't have them at any.

It is no good there being an incident at a ground on a Sunday afternoon and there being no video official there to help when had the same situation occurred on a Friday night in a televised fixture, something could have been done about it.

That can be the difference between a penalty being awarded, or a try being given. It could also be the difference between winning or losing an important fixture in the grand scheme of things.

"It is no good there being an incident at a ground on a Sunday afternoon and there being no video official there to help when had the same situation occurred on a Friday night in a televised fixture, something could have been done about it."
Luke Dorn

We are in a results-based business, so why not have the consistency across the board?

There is no point a try being given at one game that would have been chalked off at another. It is frustrating for players, fans and coaches. And it is not as if I am looking to blame the referees here, they have a tough enough job as it is. If they had a colleague with the ability to watch incidents back again and again, it would give them more help to call upon.

There have been a number of charges this year already for high or reckless tackles. I think that is somewhat down to the speed of the modern game.

I know the NRL has certainly quickened things up by officials clamping down on three men going into the tackle, stopping the game being slowed down to a standstill and becoming a 'wrestle-a-thon'.

They have made a conscious effort to increase the speed, but that leads to players pushing themselves even harder and then mistakes can creep in when it comes to technique.

I don't think it is an overly big issue to be honest - players just need to take more responsibility, or be a little more conservative at least.

18th man

In this blog I have spoken before about how I feel the introduction of an 18th man could also help to make sure that those who are the victims are not hurt even further by losing a player to injury from an incident that is illegal.

Should someone be ruled out in such circumstances, then the referee could deem it a foul by gross misconduct and allow that team to activate their extra player, meaning they remain at 17 for the rest of the match. They should be allowed to be at their full complement because they have done nothing wrong.

To stop that being open to abuse, for instance someone feigning injury to allow the spare player to be utilised in the match instead, it would have to be down to the referee to deem if the offence is serious enough.

In such a case, the video official (that I would have at every match) would then also be able to review footage and offer help to their colleagues on the field.

The concussion rules are good. Player safety is paramount and I don't think in this modern game a player would risk sacrificing himself for 10 minutes, or perhaps the rest of the game, to purposely try and knock an opposing player out.

You could even take this a step further and allow the on-field referee to review footage himself, as the NFL have done when their lead official goes 'under the hood' to see television pictures of what just unfolded on the last play. A ref involved in the game has an instinct live of what has gone on, but then if he could have a second look he could confirm, or rule out, his initial verdict.

And what if the benefit of the doubt in terms of using footage was wiped out, and instead it became down to what the on-field official thinks. If he thought it was a try or no-try in the first place and pictures prove inconclusive, and then stick with that original decision.

Who would be a referee, eh? Certainly not me, that is for sure.

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