The review system is flawed. Let’s look to rugby for the answer

spruce moose Roar Guru

By spruce moose, spruce moose is a Roar Guru

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27 Have your say

    The current review policy of making referees guess ‘try’ or ‘no-try’ seriously limits the capacity of the bunker and is leading to some genuinely embarrassing calls, while allowing the on-field referees to pass the buck on anything difficult.

    The NRL bunker is a waste of money and time.

    The Manly vs Penrith game was a prime example of the bunker failing. If you look at the Tyrone Peachey try as a standalone, entirely isolated incident, then objectively, you’d have to be happy with the Bunker’s decision to award a try.

    There was no conclusive evidence to suggest that Peachey touched the ball with his hand.

    Of course, conversely, if the on-field ref had said ‘no try’, then we would have been happy with the Bunker saying ‘no try’ as there was no conclusive evidence Peachey didn’t touch the ball!

    Problem number one right there.

    The ref guesses and the Bunker, under the current system, basically can’t do much to counter a guess. Instead, it can only validate it.

    This is a guess, not a decision.

    When looking at the Peachey incident in the greater scheme of the match, problem number two emerges. There was definitely no conclusive evidence to overturn the Peachey try, so it stood, but then there was also no conclusive to overturn the Walker try, and yet they did.

    Nathan Cleary Penrith Panthers NRL Rugby League 2017

    (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

    Problem number three (and my biggest bugbear) is looking at decisions of referees at large, and not just come try time. Had that Peachey incident occurred mid-field, there is no doubt in my mind (and I reckon all of yours) that a referee would have blown immediately and ruled a knock-on.

    It was only because Peachey was near the try line that the ref allowed play to continue and make a decision. This happens a lot, it’s just ridiculous and exposes the game to embarrassment (as if the combined week one finals attendance being lower than one AFL game isn’t embarrassing enough).

    Fortunately, the solution is simple and is in use by rugby – the on-field refs are part of the video review. Rugby union have nailed this. While there still may be the odd mistake or the odd “how can he possibly see that?” moment, the system works extremely well and keeps accountability on the on-field refs – where it belongs.

    The philosophy of the video review system in rugby is simple. It’s not an escape option for the on-field refs, it’s an assistance tool for them to make the right decision in conjunction with the video referee and the touch judges. There are no guesses, the ref consults.

    I can’t see any reason why the NRL can’t “adopt” that system.

    The NRL is already famous for lifting ideas at will from the NFL – the bunker being a prime example.

    The current system doesn’t work. It’s embarrassing. It’s an exercise in passing the buck. We want the on-field refs to make decisions, let’s tip our caps to rugby, acknowledge they have a much better system to deal with this, and adopt it before the grand final to give the responsibility back to the on-field refs.

    More importantly, let’s stop guessing.

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    The Crowd Says (27)

    • Roar Guru

      September 12th 2017 @ 7:40am
      The Barry said | September 12th 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      NRL had that system of refs referring without making a decision and it was a disaster.

      I watched the Peachey try as a neutral too. Live I thought it came off his chest. First replay I thought it was chest then hand. Second replay chest then leg with no hand. It got murkier from there.

      We need to accept that regardless of the system or the rules or technology there will be decisions that will be a best guess by all of us including the referees.

      The other thing is that we’re only guessing that the ref is guessing. The ref called try live and there was no footage to prove otherwise. Admittedly he’s got a 50/50 chance of getting it right ? But he could have been 90% sure and seeking confirmation.

      • Roar Guru

        September 12th 2017 @ 9:10am
        spruce moose said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report


        I’m not saying they shouldn’t male a decision. They should. But in partnership with the video ref. The current system of “prove me wrong suckaaaaa” is a failure of accountability.

        The bunker needlessly cops the criticism because of an inherently flawed system that is easy to correct.

        Consensus decisions are what’s needed. They may not always be correct (nothing is) but they are less controversial and bring accountability back to the on field refs.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 8:50am
      Jimmmy said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

      Can you please, please explain how the Union system could possibly have changed ANY of the decisions you mention.
      Peachy, Ref , ‘I am pretty sure he didn’t touch it . Can you see if he got a hand on it .’ Bunker , ‘ inconclusive from our view’. Ref, ‘ Ok I will Award the try’.
      Walker, Ref, ‘ I am Ok with everything , could you please check the kick chasers are inside.’. Bunker, ‘ Dylan Walker has one foot in front of the kicker and is offside’ ? Ref, ‘ OK I will disallow.’
      It changes nothing, nil , zip !
      Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. No , no, no, no, !

      • Roar Guru

        September 12th 2017 @ 8:54am
        Adam said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        Correct Jimmy. The two tries/non tries would still probably have gone the same way. This is because the referee in Union still asks questions, essentially in the same manner as a League referee does. They still ask a loaded question such as, ‘is there any reason for me not to award the try?’, or something to this effect.
        What League can borrow is the referee conversing with the video ref. Don’t make a bunker the dictatorial decision maker. Allow a consensus to be made between the referee and the video referee.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 9:02am
          Jimmmy said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

          Adam the consensus thing is Ok in theory, but seriously in Union the conversations between the Ref and the bunker are an embarrassment . The time taken , the crossed purposes , the argy bargy. It is awefull.
          Please don’t do that to League . i have very little hair left as it is,

        • Roar Guru

          September 12th 2017 @ 9:07am
          spruce moose said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

          Spot on Adam

      • Roar Guru

        September 12th 2017 @ 9:02am
        spruce moose said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

        Wouldn’t have changed anything…

        But at least the accountability is on the on-field ref. He didn’t simply guess and then hospital pass over to the video ref.

        The current system acts as an escape path for the on field ref.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 9:55pm
        Wild Eagle said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:55pm | ! Report

        It could easily change the Peachey try. If the ref isn’t obliged to make a call either way which is the case now, it changes what he says.

        Ref to bunker “I can’t tell either way it would only be a guess” Bunker can’t tell either way and can give the decision either way instead of being obliged to follow a guess. It is a 50/50 chance of going either way. Of course that is different.
        Imagine any similar incident where nobody can tell what happened . The ref or the Bunker have no idea but by forcing the ref to pretend his pretend is turning 50/50 into 100/0 .

        However it happened , the Walker try was a wrong call as has been proven.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 10:08am
      Albo said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

      I just don’t think you can expect to make the adjudication of tries any better if the officials follow the process that is already in place. There will still be the odd 50/50 calls needed to be made. The examples used in this article’s argument for change only confirms that the current system and its processes worked correctly on the night, despite the ridiculous carrying on by losing team’s coach and fans. In the Peachy incident the referee was close to the incident , he made an immediate decision of a try and sent it upstairs for confirmation. The bunker vision showed no conclusive evidence to not award the try. The decision has now been vindicated as 100% correct with split vision of the incident shown on League 360 last night where Peachey’s hand was clearly nowhere near the ball. The process worked, the decision was correct. The Manly coach now embarrassed. Go to the Walker no try in that game. The referee saw no reason not to award the try, but whether queried by linesman or pocket ref regarding a possible offside, sent it upstairs for bunker review. The bunker’s assessment was that Walker in fact was marginally off side and the try call of the referee was correctly overturned. Again the process worked. The right decision was made. Manly coach still embarrassed.
      We just need to accept that in our great game with the technology we have and the processes in place to use it, their is still going to be the odd subjective (human) call on the limited information / evidence that might be available. But generally the system works fine.

      • Roar Guru

        September 12th 2017 @ 11:07am
        spruce moose said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:07am | ! Report

        No. It didn’t work correctly.

        1. He guessed. That’s proved by the fact everyone said it’s 50/50.
        2. If peachey did that midfield, the referee would have ruled knock on…because they always rule knock on for those instances midfield.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 12:04pm
          Jimmmy said | September 12th 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

          You’re guessing he guessed. He is on the FN field . He had a good position. Why can’t he be ‘ fairly certain.!
          You don’t know. You are making it up.

          • September 12th 2017 @ 12:48pm
            spruce moose said | September 12th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

            Read point 2.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 12:16pm
          Albo said | September 12th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

          Gerard Sutton had the best view of the incident than anyone on the field or in the bunker or at home on the lounge. He was 10 m from the incident with a direct view of the Peachey play. He called it try immediately after silencing Jake T’s whinge (who was 20 m away and behind the play) and explaining his reasoning for the six again. But he did refer it upstairs for confirmation. That’s a good process, in case he missed something associated with the play. The “everyone said it was 50/50” were only from those who had no clear vision of the play. He did have a clear view. You are just guessing he was guessing. He made the correct decision which has now been totally vindicated today. If the same incident occurred midfield with Sutton in the same vicinity, I am sure he would rule the same. “They” don’t always rule knock on in those instances if they have a clear view of the incident. Haven’t we seen a few tries already scored this year from deflections off the body or dropped balls kicked ahead before hitting the ground ?

          • September 12th 2017 @ 1:41pm
            Jimmmy said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

            Sanity At last. Thanks Albo for saving me the time.

          • September 12th 2017 @ 1:48pm
            spruce moose said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

            Have we?

            Pray tell. I saw two knock backs at the Cronulla v Cowboys game called knock on’s and a back pass inexplicably ruled forward.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 10:46am
      Rob9 said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

      The on field ref sending a review upstairs as a try/no try bit us Sharks fans in the bum this weekend too with the Taumololo effort. From the footage you’d assume the ball never made the grass but as it went up as a try and there was no frame of the ball being held up with all the bodies in the road, it had to be awarded. I think the solution to this is simple, just have a third option where the ref sends it up as they genuinely have no idea of whether the try has been scored or not. If there’s clear footage of a try being scored then, boom- Try. Awarding points in big games where there’s considerable amounts of doubt whether a try has been scored or not isn’t a good thing for the game.

      • Roar Guru

        September 12th 2017 @ 11:13am
        Emcie said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        Is that any different to what we’ve already had? You’re just proposing a different version of benefit of the doubt. Everyone complained about that because there was a blanket call for every try scoring situation where the view was obstructed and no one liked that decisions were being made based on slow mo footage which took momentum out of the equation so they introduced seding it up as a try or no try so that at least if the video ref couldn’t conclusively prove it either way the decision was based on what happened live and without the bias that multiple replays can cause. There was also the issue that the vidoe ref was taking forever to make calls because they had nothing to fall back if they couldn’t make a decision

        • September 12th 2017 @ 12:00pm
          Rob9 said | September 12th 2017 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

          Well what we had was all being sent up without the input of the on field referee.

          Why not just add a third option where if they’re in no position to provide an opinion for what they saw on the field, they don’t have to have a guess at it and it’s left solely up to conclusive video evidence showing a try being scored.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 12:06pm
      Jimmmy said | September 12th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

      Rob 9 ,from the footage you had to assume some part of the ball WAS on the ground, Plus one Ref was in a good position and called it. Surely that’s enough, ???

      • September 12th 2017 @ 12:23pm
        Rob9 said | September 12th 2017 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

        Jim, I thought otherwise from the footage. There was a hand somewhere under it and a considerable chunk of the ball above the hands and arms blocking the view of the base of it. Regarding what the referees saw; it appeared Klein went straight upstairs without consulting Badger. Klein had no view of the side of the tackle where the ball was visible and even though Badger did he was over 10 meters from the tackle.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 1:37pm
          Jimmmy said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

          Rob 9. You didn’t think the angle on the ball meant that the other end had to be on the ground. I recall one commentator( Gould??) saying surely the ball has touched the grass somewhere. Anyway It’s all subjective but I do believe he got it down. They always consult so I assume Badger said yep.
          I do agreee though a very difficult decision.

          • September 12th 2017 @ 1:48pm
            spruce moose said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

            Consult? With who?

          • September 12th 2017 @ 2:05pm
            Rob9 said | September 12th 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

            I was watching the fox broadcast. Take a look at this clip which has got the fox commentary too. I’m with Brandy’s view in that it hadn’t touched the ground. But as it went up as a try the video ref couldn’t take it away from them. The other thing the clip shows is how quick Klein sent it upstairs. It certainly doesn’t look like much consultation between he and Badger went on.


            • September 12th 2017 @ 3:08pm
              spruce moose said | September 12th 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

              I was at both games, and am ‘fairly certain’ that with the Peachey try, there was no consultation with the touch judges or the pocket refs.

              Considering the touch judge had the best view, it is astonishing that he wasn’t consulted even in a box ticking way.

              On the Taumololo try, the ref did not consult with anyone, not even the pocket ref who could have seen something form behind that the main ref didn’t see. But I’m not as annoyed by that as others…the main ref was mere feet from the play that time.

              There’s no consultation on line ball decisions. The buck is passed straight to the video. They only ‘consult’ on the clear cut tries.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 4:29pm
      LuckyEddie said | September 12th 2017 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

      Rugby in Australia is on it’s death bed, why would anyone look to it for enlightenment

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