Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Mad Monday - Referee Standards (2012)

Yes, I'm about to lace into the referee's. Its not to do with any bad calls my team has received recently or any massive blunders that may have happened on the weekend.

It's because I watched some footage of rugby league games recently from the sixties to the nineties and I fear that the refereeing standard back then far exceeded that of the referees today.

Are the modern refs to fault? No.

A mass of rugby league commentators, print, radio and television, all expressed many years ago the desire to have video refs to assist in the decision making of whether tries were scored.

This has inadvertantly forced the refs on the field into complacency. If they dare go it alone and make a decision based on what they saw, they stand to be harrangued by the hoardes of fans on the receiving end of the decision.

If they then opt to go to the video everytime, which is more and more frequent in occurence today, then they get harrangued for not having the gumption to make the call like the refs in the good old days.

This softly softly approach by referees when ruling on tries has also extended to illegal play. But only half of it.

Diving has become a blight on the game. Players know they can stay down after getting hit, despite not being injured, knowing they'll get a penalty.

It's high time that diving was issued with a similar penalty. If you are hit late and stay down, the ref should immediately rule you are unconscious and are not to return to the field for the rest of the game. The player will also have to have an extra week off so as to ensure the concussion has been medicated appropriately and the player has fully recovered.

If we are going to have officials feign an interest in the players safety, they may as well enforce that concern fully. This way we weed out diving while also ensuring players who genuinely do get concussions and other injuries are properly treated.

On the other side of the coin, is the placing of players on report ad-nauseum. This makes no sense. If we have a video ref to ajudicate on tries, then surely they can assist with illegal play.

Putting someone on report for a high tackle that leaves one player injured and unable to return, while the attacker remains on the field for the rest of the game is not a fair system.

People can handle when a ref makes a bad call on his own as it's not always possible to make the right call every time while in the moment. But when the technology is there to assist and errors are still made, then it makes the job for the men in the middle even harder.

It's time that video refs are given upgraded technology, such as high definition footage on high definition screens and the opportunity to be asked to make a review of an illegal play when asked to by the refs on the field.

If we don't make the step forward, then we take the referee quality backwards and subsequently, the quality of the games as well.

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