The Roar
The Roar


Referees need support, not media criticism

Roar Guru
26th June, 2014

A recent article about referees on The Roar highlighted how respect appears to have been lost, especially respect for the referees.

One aspect of the article was the questioning of referees by the players and the manner this is done. It now a common occurrence to see players try to browbeat the referee. This is something that wasn’t part of the game only a few years ago and is much more commonly seen in football.

Why has this changed? Firstly, I believe calling players by their first name or nick name was a mistake. By calling a player by their number, it was not personal.

Once first names are used, it becomes personal and so the referee loses some authority. Captains were the only ones who spoke with the referee.

The NRL has stated that captains can only speak to the refs, but this seems to have not been adopted.

Another reason why respect seems to have gone by the wayside is that referees appear to be unable or afraid to referee to the rules. The media has to accept a fair portion of blame here.

How often do we hear or read that referees don’t penalise players for getting off the tackled player or not playing the ball correctly? What about for the markers not standing square? We hear about it no end from TV and radio commentators. However, if a referee has the gall to penalise players consistently for rule infractions, these same media types complain that that the referee is ruining the game or is being a show pony leaving the ref in a no win situation.

From a fan’s viewpoint, there is nothing worse than having two referees and two touch judges out there but forward passes from dummy half are still missed.


How can we fix this? Firstly, the NRL should advise referees to call players by their number and the colour of their jersey. Take the personal aspect out of the game.

Secondly, get rid of the second ref and go back to one. Penalise when needed regardless of whether it is the second minute or the 78th minute. Go back to using the reporting system the way it was meant to be used, that is when the referees or touch judges are unsighted on the incident it goes on report. When something is seen, referees should make their decisions on the field.

If a player is sent off or sin binned, bad luck, they shouldn’t have offended in the first place. The referees have a hard time of it because their decisions make or break the game. However, some urgent changes need to be made to the current set up to support them as much as possible.