Horrid refereeing lets down NRL Finals

Rachid Roar Rookie

By Rachid, Rachid is a Roar Rookie


40 Have your say

    Friday night’s elimination final was, as far as refereeing decisions went, an abomination. Those players worked hard all year only to have their season derailed by poor video refereeing.

    It is unexplainable and unforgivable. The people officiating have lost the plot and should no longer be employed! Ultimately, though, the blame must be placed at the feet of the NRL.

    They have created a dynamic where people expect the right decision every time and that is never going to happen. You have two referees, two touch judges and video replays but officials are not machines and will occasionally make the wrong decisions, regardless of if they’re running around the middle, running the line or sitting in a box.

    The public emphasis must be taken off getting it 100% right all the time, because it’s patently obvious you cannot do that.

    The official in the middle needs to be given absolute control and their decision making process needs to be simplified so they make the call as they see it. No replays, no video conferences, no checking. That way the referee – as it has been for hundreds of years across all sports – is always right.

    With one significant difference – we should allow teams an opportunity to challenge controversial decisions. If you get it wrong you lose that chance, if you get it right the challenge remains.

    Players who are involved in these decisions generally know what has happened and under this system they would be forced to be honest or risk losing the advantage a challenge affords them.

    Using Friday night’s game as an example:

    The first example saw Manly have the ball stripped and it was missed. Manly could have challenged the call instantly and received a penalty – the correct decision made. If the Cowboys instead had been penalised for knocking the ball out, then they could challenge the call but the bloke that knocked it out would not challenge as he’d knowingly be sacrificing his team’s challenge.

    The second example had Manly score out wide but there was doubt in the try. The on-field referees would have allowed it, so it’s up to the Cowboys to challenge the call. I’d like to think that if this was only the second thing the video referee was looking at, he would make a better call than the one made last night. But, regardless, if the evidence is conclusive and the try was definitely a try, then the Cowboys have used up their challenge.

    If, as was the case on Friday night, the try was awarded with benefit of the doubt, then the try would stand but the Cowboys keep their challenge. They would not be penalised. Friday night’s decision would stand but everyone would be given more certainty and feel better about what had transpired.

    The referee made a confident call on the spot. The video proved inconclusive in attempting to reverse the decision move on.

    Third example, Manly score to put the game beyond doubt. I’m not sure if the referees would have awarded the try based on what they saw live.

    Let’s say they didn’t award the try. There’s no way Manly would have challenged the call. Firstly, Lyon knows he pushed Thurston in the back on the kick chase and Foran knows he knocked on. They would believe that the video would show these things up clearly and would likely not challenge.

    If you think that, given the state of the game and the time left on the clock, Manly would have rolled the dice and challenged the call, then you could introduce the equivalent of an AFL 50m penalty, whereby if you’re found on the video replay to be ‘lying’ as it were, you would be marched 50m up field and lose possession. A small price to pay for cheating really!

    Let’s say the on field referee had awarded the try. The Cowboys would challenge the try. They would ask that the video referee look at the things they were unhappy with in the movement. Given this is only the third thing the video referee was looking at, you would hope they could make a better call than the one they made last night.

    If the call is just as bad then last night’s decision is unchanged but again the referee made a confident call on the spot and the video proved inconclusive in attempting to reverse the decision. That’s sport. Hard to swallow but that happens sometimes.

    To make this work, ideally you would have the support of broadcasters not to be replaying decisions, trying to find errors by the officials. I’m not sure that this would be possible but you would hope that by empowering the players to potentially rectify howlers, while simultaneously demanding that they be more honest (or they’ll be found out and potentially disadvantage their team), these instances of controversy would largely be mitigated.

    The argument for any continued errors within a game is simple – the players involved were unsure, so didn’t challenge the call, and we as officials called it as we saw it.

    The referee is empowered to do their job without fear of being undermined but the teams have an avenue for review if they’re sure an error has been made.

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    The Crowd Says (40)

    • Roar Guru

      September 16th 2012 @ 7:38am
      steve b said | September 16th 2012 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      The challenge system is a must and the sooner the better !!

      • September 16th 2012 @ 8:20am
        Andy said | September 16th 2012 @ 8:20am | ! Report

        Even with the challenge system who is to say that the video refs would not have come up with the same decision on the two tries.

    • September 16th 2012 @ 8:02am
      solly said | September 16th 2012 @ 8:02am | ! Report

      Hmm, the problem with the challenge system is that, I assume, they would be using the same technology as the current video referreeing system.

      So unless the person upholdng or denying the challenge is foolproof, you are still going to get the odd incompetent decisions that the vide refs are giving these days.

      The solution is to give all power to the referee on the field.

      If there is a commercial benefit to having a vide referee, then remove grey areas in the rules. In the case of a try, if in doubt, the defence gets it.


      • September 16th 2012 @ 8:23am
        Andy said | September 16th 2012 @ 8:23am | ! Report

        “The solution is to give all power to the referee on the field.” That does not solve the issue at all. It just makes calls more of a lucky dip then what they are now. The solution might be to introduce some of the stuff they use in the cricket, when reviewing decisions. Which might mean more video refs in the box to reduce review time.

        • September 16th 2012 @ 9:06am
          solly said | September 16th 2012 @ 9:06am | ! Report

          Were decisions back when there was only one referee and no video referee all that wrong?

          I could be wrong but I suspect that with so many more ‘authorities’ on the field and in the video box, the referee himself is no longer a respected figure.

          I think it may be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen.

      • Roar Guru

        September 16th 2012 @ 8:39am
        steve b said | September 16th 2012 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        Apparently not the new digital system will give a better frame by frame with clearer resolution so the picture should leave no doubt for the pinkies in the box ,,the challenge system will be introduced ,,but how it will work has not been decided and when is still up in the air

        • September 16th 2012 @ 12:14pm
          Lovey said | September 16th 2012 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          That will help a lot. It is more important to get these decisions right than worry about a pause in play. The controversies will be worse if the viewers at home have the slomo replays but the refs do not.

          I also think the League should have a couple of HD cameras focused on the ball, in close-up, at all times. This will help adjudicate knock ons, disputed touchdowns etc.

    • September 16th 2012 @ 9:09am
      Asko said | September 16th 2012 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      On Friday night, the Manly tries in question involved a double movement ( and leg into touch on the second movement) and a knock on. The impact on the Cowboys spirit was clear – they were thinking we can’t play Manly and the refs. There were echos of the Cowboys semi-final elimination by the Roosters in 2004 due to refereeing decisions. There is a bigger question here – are regional teams disadvantaged in the finals to ensure aSydney based team is in the grand final ensuring a bigger crowd? Is there a deeper reason why the cowboys have only won 4 matches in Sydney in the last 25 outings? I think that there should be a formal investigation of the Friday night final and the issue of regional team bias. There is a very strong argument that the Friday nigth final should be replayed or the Cowboys compensated (somehow in addition to money!)
      I don’t like the challenge idea – the system is good if the refs are fair.

      • September 16th 2012 @ 9:49am
        Andy said | September 16th 2012 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        “There is a very strong argument that the Friday night final should be replayed or the Cowboys compensated” So every match where a team is unhappy with ref decisions should be replayed? or maybe only finals? errors happen all the time. A replay would leave at least one team disadvantaged and give extra resting time for another.

        • Roar Guru

          September 16th 2012 @ 9:54am
          steve b said | September 16th 2012 @ 9:54am | ! Report

          Andy it’s a rumour it won’t happen !!!

      • September 16th 2012 @ 10:21am
        eagleJack said | September 16th 2012 @ 10:21am | ! Report

        Yes, Asko the Cowboys have only won 4 games in 25 attempts in Sydney because of the refs!!

        The NRL Grand Final crowd is huge regardless of who is playing. A look at the past 5 years:

        2011 – Manly v Warriors – 81,988
        2010 – Roosters v Dragons – 82,334
        2009 – Storm v Eels – 82,538
        2008 – Storm v Manly – 80,388
        2007 – Storm v Manly – 81,392

        Even in the 2006 Grand Final between the Storm and Broncos, which was the one and only time a Sydney team has not competed, they still drew a crowd of 79,609

        So please move on from the conspiracies

        • September 16th 2012 @ 10:31am
          Asko said | September 16th 2012 @ 10:31am | ! Report

          Just a point – crowd these days takes in TV audiences. Do you have stats for that?

          • September 16th 2012 @ 10:41am
            eagleJack said | September 16th 2012 @ 10:41am | ! Report

            Nah sorry mate don’t have that.

            “Numbers Man” who sometimes posts on the Roar has those sorts of figures.

            Im pretty certain that the TV audience increases annually irrespective of who is playing. I would be interested in actually seeing the figures though.

          • September 16th 2012 @ 10:53am
            eagleJack said | September 16th 2012 @ 10:53am | ! Report

            Just a quick Google search I found that the NRL grand final beat the AFL grand final last year in the head to head TV ratings (2,720,000 v 2,595,000). A rare win.

            This was due to the 692,000 who tuned in from across the ditch to watch the Warriors.

            So to me I would take from this that it would actually be in the best interests of the TV networks to have the Cowboys or Broncos make the Grand Final to maximise the QLD TV audience. Sydney tunes in regardless.

            • September 16th 2012 @ 2:20pm
              Australian Rules said | September 16th 2012 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

              John Davidson had a break down last year on the Roar:


              AFL: Metro (2.6M) + Regional (930k) = 3.53M (approx)
              NRL: Metro (2M) + Regional (1.15M) + NZ (692k) = 3.84M

              * There are no clear numbers for AFL or NRL overseas (except NZ).

              Notably, the highest ever rating AFL GF was Sydney v WCE in 2005 with a whopping 3.39M Metro viewers alone. Shows the tv power of Sydney.

              • September 16th 2012 @ 11:04pm
                Michael said | September 16th 2012 @ 11:04pm | ! Report

                We’re told that the Difference between the regionals for NRL and AFL is huge, yet based on those numbers there’s not much between them?

              • September 17th 2012 @ 4:13pm
                Australian Rules said | September 17th 2012 @ 4:13pm | ! Report


                The truth is that NRL does get bigger regional ratings, but not by much. It’s been one of the myths that has been pedalled for years.

                In reality, the AFL has consistently higher ratings around Australia and this is particularly so when you examine the Metro ratings, where the overwhelming majority of the advertising money is.

                However, when you add all rugby league content (the NRL competition, Origin, Test, Finals, other rep footy) it usually surpassess AFL…but there’s no question the AFL season rates considerably higher than the NRL season.

      • September 16th 2012 @ 10:48am
        Dave said | September 16th 2012 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        The sad part about this situation is the bias seems to be the most reasonable answer. It was only a few weeks ago 9 was telling everyone it had the right to decide which games were played when because they owned the NRL and now after potentially the most biased referee performance of the season the ARLC is beaming because now they have a marketing dream for the top 4. Sadly if it walks like a duck….. The arguments regarding Manly being the best team is kind of irrelevant, after all it is easy to play well when the rules of the game are not applied to you.

        • September 16th 2012 @ 11:00am
          eagleJack said | September 16th 2012 @ 11:00am | ! Report

          The sad part is that you actually believe the following statement “it is easy to play well when the rules of the game are not applied to you”.

          If Im ever in need of some tin foil I’ll make sure I drop by your place.

          • September 16th 2012 @ 11:27am
            Dave said | September 16th 2012 @ 11:27am | ! Report

            Actually eagle jack it is much easier to look good on the field when one team on the field is allowed to knock on, ground in goal and still get a 22 restart, etc… But the again anger is only justified against refs when Manly are the ones raising the issues I guess. As for the foil call is the only way you can respond to a point by insulting others?

            • September 16th 2012 @ 3:34pm
              eagleJack said | September 16th 2012 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

              My point of the foil is not to offend but purely to point out that a comment that one team does not have the rules apply to them is utterly ridiculous. I have no problems with people directing their anger towards the refs. They have been poor all year. But that has been for ALL teams. There is no bias – simply incompetency.

              From the review of the game the officials have said that the Taufua try was correct. He scored in the first movement with the tip of the ball touching the chalk.

              The Oldfield try should not have been allowed due to a knock forward by Foran.

              They also conceded they got the Graham strip on Taufua wrong. The Cowboys scored from the ensuing set of six.

              So from my calculations that is one poor call each. No doubt the Foran call broke the Cowboys back and made the task at hand extremely difficult. The timing of the call was significant no doubt about that. But it was hardly because the refs were only adjudicating one side. Surely even you must admit that.

              At the end of the day the 4 best teams of 2012 are fighting it out next week. Would be hard to argue otherwise.

              • September 16th 2012 @ 4:56pm
                Hardwick said | September 16th 2012 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

                Seems to be a few people with conspiracy theories who watch league.

                My mate’s a Manly fan and swears there’s a conspiracy against them. I once asked him if he honestly thought the refs were against them. He looked me in the eyes and said ‘it goes much higher than the refs’!

              • September 17th 2012 @ 1:32am
                Andrew meaning MANLY said | September 17th 2012 @ 1:32am | ! Report

                AMEN EJ

              • September 17th 2012 @ 1:32am
                Andrew meaning MANLY said | September 17th 2012 @ 1:32am | ! Report

    • Roar Guru

      September 16th 2012 @ 9:37am
      turbodewd said | September 16th 2012 @ 9:37am | ! Report

      The problem is the whole way we regulate replays. In the NFL they have it right, over there:

      1. Official makes a ruling.
      2. Occasionally a coach throws his challenge flag on to the field.
      3. Video official only overrules original call if there is ‘clear visual evidence’ to do so. So if something is 50-50 or iffy he will let the first call stand.

      This totally makes sense to me as we see too many tries of highly dubious nature. These tries cheapen the try.

      • September 16th 2012 @ 9:41am
        solly said | September 16th 2012 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        Is that how they do it over there?

        If you are going to have a video ref system, that one sounds pretty good.

      • September 16th 2012 @ 10:51am
        jdubya said | September 16th 2012 @ 10:51am | ! Report

        I agree with this actually.

        Before a ref refers to the video ref he must make his decision, the video ref must then only look for CLEAR evidence to change the onfield call, if there is no clear evidence the on field call stands.

        So if Manly’s try last night had of been awarded a no try on the field there is no way the Video ref could have awarded it.

    • September 16th 2012 @ 10:00am
      Chris morrison said | September 16th 2012 @ 10:00am | ! Report

      I like the idea but you should get 1 challenge per half, keeping ur challenge in play if your challenge is upheld. Benefit of the doubt should go to the defending team. Also the game needs to go back to 1 referee. The experiment has failed. I believe most people would agree the standard of refereeing has gone backwards since being introduced. Finally the referee needs to have no ear piece in his ear. Let him make his own decisions by himself. When a challenge is called for he simply makes his signal then it will be in the challenge referees hands.

      • September 16th 2012 @ 10:22am
        rachid said | September 16th 2012 @ 10:22am | ! Report


        the idea with having only one challenge is that the players have to be honest. If they know their challenge will go if they’re lying then they wont challenge.

        perhaps you’re right maybe it can work with a challenge per half but for me making the players accountable for the challenge is paramount.

    • September 16th 2012 @ 10:18am
      rachid said | September 16th 2012 @ 10:18am | ! Report

      Challenges on their own will not work. These guys get it wrong. The key to the challenges success is that its the players who challenge and more importantly that they are forced to be honest! They challenge instantly without seeing replays. It’s the guys involved not the coaches.

      The on field referee never goes to the video referee. The on field referee calls it as they see it. The player if they’re sure an error has been made will challenge the call, but if they get it wrong the challenge is gone.

      The on field referee is always right unless a player challenges and can prove otherwise.

      Its simple.