NRL 2013: Year of the referee!

Chris Chard Columnist

By Chris Chard, Chris Chard is a Roar Expert

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    Jarryd Hayne can pontificate his love for Parramatta, but he's betrayed the club. (AAP Image/Action Photographics,Colin Whelan)

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    The 2013 NRL season may be completely non-existent but already the betting agencies have already shut up shop for the game’s ‘Most Improved’.

    And no, it’s not Tim Moltzen, Chris Sandow or Greg Bird’s facial hair – it’s the refs!

    Blimey, did anyone else see a trial match on the weekend? Who were those blokes in the striking pink-and-black ensembles making decisions in the in-goals from Dunedin to Dunny-doo?

    Surely these couldn’t be the same blokes from 2012 who struggled harder to make a decision than Laurie Daley making his footy tips on Fox Sports.

    But, after a quick check of the names save for a few dropouts and a couple of new ex-player video refs hogging the party pies yes, it was the usual suspects.

    So what’s happened in the off-season? New refs boss Daniel Anderson been coaching the house down? A steep pay increase? Some sort of anabolic goat peptide protein shake injection?

    Nope, seems they’ve been given something even better and totally ACC approved.


    By asking the refs to make a decision on a try when referring to the man upstairs, as well as scrapping ‘Benefit of the Doubt’ to the attacking side, the NRL has helped the whistleblowers regain their mojo and the game looked a hell of a lot better for it on the weekend.

    This may all sound so simple but think about it like this: a referees job is to make decisions.

    By taking that away from them by going to a video ref straight away on contentious calls, you are eroding the basic building blocks of their profession.

    Over the last few years far too often refs have behaved a bit like you and me when we pull out of our driveway, get around the corner and wonder if we left the garage door open and if our kitchen is now being ransacked by the twelve cats that live across the road.

    Even refereeing at a laughably lowly level, having felt the thrill of striding onto a ground whistle in hand and insults zinging around my ears made me realise being a referee depends on confidence like Pamela Anderson’s acting career depended on fourteen-year-old boys.

    Plus, there’s the added bonus with the new system in that the fans can have an objective measurement of how good a ref is by how often their decision upon referral turns out to be correct.

    Who know, maybe they’ll put a tally in Big League for punters to keep track with in the stands.

    Now there’s a good chance that once again perhaps we’re all going off early here, after all everyone raved about the two ref system for three minutes before resuming usual service.

    And the ref reforms are yet to face a Phil Gould Channel Nine twenty-minute tirade.

    However, for such a simple rule change the referee decision upon referral to the video ref made the games genuinely more enjoyable on the weekend, and it will hopefully also have a flow-on effect of reduced times for video ref decisions.

    I for one see things heading in the right direction, and am willing to give the new laws and regime ‘the benefit of the doubt’on this one.

    Now, if only we could have come up with a better rule for the shoulder charge.

    Follow Chris on Twiter @Vic_Arious

    Chris Chard
    Chris Chard

    Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar since 2011. Tweet him @Vic_Arious

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • February 25th 2013 @ 10:30am
      Lou said | February 25th 2013 @ 10:30am | ! Report

      Hope not , all that technology ,assistance on the field hasn’t helped abit, the sacking of Hollywood may bring alittle sanity back to the whistle blowers, as long as they remember its the players we want to read about not them,there private lives nor there sexual preferences !!, I don’t care for refs I only care that there decisions on game day are fair and just,that’s not to say I don’t respect em , however what respect I had went out the window shortly after the cement truck was booked but unfortunately failed to arrive,

    • Roar Guru

      February 25th 2013 @ 10:33am
      Bazzio said | February 25th 2013 @ 10:33am | ! Report

      How ridiculous the decision was when Cameron King was concussed in the Charity Shield ~ the ball remained under King’s arm & therefore in his possession even while he was being lowered to the ground & the ref Jarred Maxwell had blown time out for injury. Yet the game was restarted with a scrum & feed to Souths with a ruling of ‘knock-on’ by King. Attrocious!
      It seems to me that this year is the new last year for idiotic refereeing decisions, with Jarred Maxwell leading the charge (as usual) of ref’s whose confidence is so high they can make such bad calls without a second thought (if indeed a 1st thought ever existed).

    • Roar Guru

      February 25th 2013 @ 10:40am
      Adam Scroggy said | February 25th 2013 @ 10:40am | ! Report

      Unfortunately, Chris, I think we are going off early… not because I think the refs do a bad job, but because most fans, coaches, players and commentators still see them as scapegoats first and referees second.

      I hope I’m wrong! If we see even a few less stories about refereeing decisions in 2013, I’d be stoked.

    • February 25th 2013 @ 3:13pm
      Pot Stirrer said | February 25th 2013 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

      As long as we dont have to sit through 3 minutes of replays every time a try is scored il be happy.

    • February 25th 2013 @ 8:37pm
      minibus said | February 25th 2013 @ 8:37pm | ! Report

      Referees need all the support they can get because they’re stuck between the fans, coaches & ARLC who all have competing interest at the moment! Fans wanting a fair or even chance for their team, coaches wanting consisency while pushing the boundries of legal play and management who are trying to provide a commercial product for TV. One strategy is to head hunt potential refs, as clubs do for players, while they’re still at high school. These canidates will be identified early because they have the right temprment to become world class officals!

    • February 26th 2013 @ 12:19am
      Baloo said | February 26th 2013 @ 12:19am | ! Report

      Most important thing for rugby league in regards to refereeing is to eradicate the really stinky video ref decisions, eg: the Manly “try” against the cowboys in last years finals. The new rule change should help with this by putting the onus back on the on-field officals.

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