WIZ: Referees have to get it right, every single time
Jarryd Hayne is cornered by two referees. (AAP Image/Action Photographics,Colin Whelan)
Watching last weekend’s games and the brouhaha that erupted following the controversial refereeing decisions made me think about what must be done to get it right and how it was back in my day.
The main difference when I played was that at least you could talk to the referees – and they could talk back to you.
Not that it’d change anything. But there was at least the opportunity to vent your frustrations. Nowadays, the captains of the teams are just shooed away.
The players are struggling to come to terms with that. Johnathan Thurston appealing to the referee that the Cowboys were robbed was an outcry of frustration.
The referees are miked up and recorded, and they know what they say is going to be heard by millions, especially if it’s controversial.
When I was playing, we could at least have a chat and let the referees know what we thought. I used to blow up all the time.
The worst anyone would see back then was us waving our hands, and there was a proper dialogue in place with the referees. Nowadays, you’d be called a sook.
The referees these days can’t say sorry, they can’t say they got it wrong. Too many people are listening.
They already get too much publicity. They’ll make mistakes, but we’d just like to limit them as best we can.
Bill Harrigan came out and said they got it wrong. But as a player, that’s far too late.
Mistakes will be made by referees, just like we see mistakes from our best players. But as fans, commentators, and players, what we don’t accept is that the video referee can make mistakes.
The blokes sitting up in the box just can’t get it wrong. Anything less than 100% is not acceptable.
It’s the biggest issue with all football codes.
The video referees used are the right guys. They’ve refereeed the game, they’ve been around it. When they’re up in the box, they just can’t get it wrong.
They must make the correct decision.
This benefit of the doubt stuff just doesn’t sit well with me either, and it’s a big part of the problem.
The benefit of the doubt goes with the attacking side. But that’s not right. It’s a terrible grey area for the sport.
It’s either a try or not. Any doubt should be no try. A try should only be given if it’s clear. If there’s doubt, it’s no try.
There are too many shades of grey, and they’re all around the benefit of the doubt. Remove that, we remove the grey area, we remove heartache and confusion.
The supporters who are either at the game or watching it can’t understand it. It needs to be addressed right away.
To further remove any problems, we have to open the game to the video referee. I don’t want this to mean constant stoppages.
But we should allow the video referee to examine the game across the board to make sure we get it right.
The game is all about speed and power, and constant stoppages won’t be appreciated. But I have a solution for this.
Stop the game the moment the ball goes out. If the ball is dead, stop the game. Don’t just have time-off for scrums.
This would seriously test the players both mentally and physically.
Would this change for the game for the better?
Fitness would start to be a big factor. The small men would come back into the game. Just having the biggest team wouldn’t be enough. You could further drop the interchange to just six changes if you really wanted to test fitness.
The referees have gone through a number of changes and a huge amount of work in just a few short years. It’s a tough gig.
I couldn’t do it.
I know what I used to say to them and it wasn’t pretty. But they have to get it right and the means have to be there to help them.
Gary 'Wiz' Freeman is one of the great halfbacks in New Zealand rugby league history. Now an outspoken and popular media personality, he joined The Roar in 2012 as an expert rugby league columnist, and continues in 2013.
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