The Roar
The Roar

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

You think the referee hates your side? Check the stats first

We should refrain from constant ref bashing. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Expert
13th June, 2018
54
11614 Reads

A weird phenomenon occurred before the Panthers vs Raiders match. On social media I saw both sides supporters claim that referee Henry Perenara was biased against their team.

‘Surely that can’t be’, I thought. The ex-Warriors, Storm, Dragons, Eels and Sharks player has courted some controversy as a referee, but how could he be biased against both sides? And if he was, how would that possibly be demonstrated?

What this situation really brought home to me was that supporters frequently claim that certain referees are biased against their side and that their claims are most probably based on very little.

With thanks to my great friends at The Rugby League Project, I crunched the numbers.

To be included the referee had to have controlled, either as lead or assistant referee, at least ten games for the club in question.

I’ve also included the referees with the all-time best and worst winning percentages for each side as well – and each sides winning percentage over the last decade for reference.

Before we start, let me stress that I am firmly of the opinion that every statistical set as a matter of course must have outliers. The existence of outliers is not by any stretch proof of referee bias.

Our officials are hardworking and dedicated. They take great pride in getting decisions right. That is their aim. Any suggestion of bias on the part of referees I believe to be spurious.

But I also enjoy looking at the numbers.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Let’s look at the sides in current ladder order.

St George Illawarra Dragons

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
52.8% Henry Perenara (64.3%) Chris Sutton 27.3% Jason Robinson (76.2%) Gavin Morris (26.7%)

And straight up we see Henry Perenara as the current whistleblower who the Dragons most routinely win under, with a winning percentage well above their average over the last ten seasons. Conversely, when Bernie Sutton’s little brother Chris controls the Dragons they lose three-quarters of the time.

Penrith Panthers

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
50.2% Gavin Reynolds (76.2%) Adam Gee (30.8%) Gavin Reynolds (76.2%) Kevin Roberts (23.1%)

The Panthers faithful should be very happy to see Gavin ‘Funky’ Reynolds rolling up to their games as they win 75 per cent of their games he is controlling. Gee is their best referee of all time percentage-wise. However, when Adam Gee turns up they would feel great trepidation as they win less than a third of the games he controls.

Nathan Cleary Panthers.

(AAP Image/Daniel Munoz)

Advertisement
Advertisement

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
53.5% Henry Perenara (68.4%) Gavin Badger (41.3%) Joe Murray (92.3%) 1921-1930 Tim Mander (25%)

And look at who the referee is that the Rabbitohs have the best winning percentage under. That’s right: its Henry! The Cardinal and Myrtle win over two-thirds of their games under the Auckland born Perenara. However, his record pales to that of referee Joe Murray who controlled the Rabbitohs in the 1920s: 92.3 per cent!

New Zealand Warriors

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
44.2% Gerard Sutton (63.2%) Chris Sutton (14.3%) Brett Suttor (64.7%) Chris Sutton (14.3%)

Well here is a tale of two Suttons. On one hand the Warriors do quite nicely indeed under the oldest Coonabarabran Sutton sibling. However, under little bro Chris they barely win one match in ten. The Warriors would have been the side most disappointed when Brett Suttor had his whistle confiscated and replaced with a flag as he was the referee they have got their very best results under.

Melbourne Storm

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
68.4% Gavin Reynolds (100%) Henry Perenara (58.8%) Gavin Reynolds (100%) BIll Harrigan (35.7%)
Advertisement
Advertisement

The key stat you need to know about the referees in regard to the Melbourne Storm is that only one of the whistleblowers who has controlled ten or more of their games had them with a winning percentage in the red: Bill Harrigan. However, when a side has a 68.4 per cent win ratio over the last decade, that is hardly surprising. The rest all have the Purple Horde on the happy side of the equation.

However, they are never so happy as when Gavin ‘Funky’ Reynolds turns up. They’ve never lost when he has controlled one of their games. Henry is the current referee under whom they have the worst results, with just a 58.8 per cent win rate.

Sydney Roosters

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
52.6% Matt Cecchin (65.9%) Gavin Badger (41%) Mark Oaten (90%) Tony De Las Heras (23.5%)

Leading referee Matt Cecchin finally makes an appearance. The Roosters have won two-thirds of the matches he has controlled. That’s way better than their winning percentage. The perfectly manscaped Gavin Badger is the current ref whom the Bondi Boys do the worst under. The now retired Tony De Las Heras is the man under whom the Roosters historically have had their worst results under.

Cooper Cronk

(Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Cronulla Sharks

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
46% Matt Noyen (70%) Gavin Badger (39.5%) Brian Grant (75%) Barry Barnes (27.3%)
Advertisement
Advertisement

Once more we see Gavin Badger pop up as the referee under which a side has their worst results, the Sharks in this instance. When Matt Noyen controls the Sharks games there is a 70 per cent chance you’ll hear that stupid trumpet playing Roll out the Barrel incessantly so that it gets stuck in your head all the bloody way home. Can someone please ‘deal’ with that trumpet?

Brisbane Broncos

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
58% Chris Sutton (72.7%) Matt Cecchin (50%) Kelvin Jeffes (85.7%) Tony Archer (45.2%)

Wouldn’t it be nice if the referee under which your team gets the worst results still saw you win 50 per cent of the time? That’s the story for the Broncos with Matt Cecchin. And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t Gerry Sutton who is the Broncos most favourable ref, it is his little brother Chris. The Broncos have a 56.8 per cent win rate under Gerry. However, Kelvin Jeffes’ 85.7 per cent may never be bettered.

Wests Tigers

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
45.8% Gerard Sutton (53.8%) Henry Perenara (33.3%) Adam Devcich (58.3%) Tim Mander (27.8%)

Finally a side that has a case to claim that Henry Perenara is out to get them. The Wests Tigers have won only a third of their games under Perenara. Gerry Sutton is the current referee they do the best under. However, that benefit is marginal at best. Have a look at how the merged club fared under Tim Mander too.

Canberra Raiders

Advertisement
Advertisement
Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
45.3% Matt Noyen (66.7%) Chris Butler (30%) Graeme West (66.7%) Tony Archer (30%)

Chris Butler is the tallest of the referees. The Canberra Raiders win less than a third of the games he controls. Conversely, they win two-thirds of the games that Matt Noyen controls. Historically Tony Archer is the referee they did the worst under. Graeme West controlled matches during the Raiders heydays so his percentage is unsurprising.

Nick Cotric

(Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Newcastle Knights

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
38.6% Gavin Badger (60%) Gavin Reynolds (21.4%) Paul McBlane (72%) David Munro (11.8%)

Gee, look at that ten-year winning percentage. It’s the worst of all the clubs by quite a way. However, Gavin Badger has bucked that percentage as they win six out of ten games under him. The Novocastrian faithful would sincerely wish they could get the same sort of results under Funky Reynolds under whom they only win one in five. David Munro finished up at the end of last season and I’m guessing the Knights fans aren’t missing him.

Gold Coast Titans

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
43.5% Henry Perenara (52.4%) Gavin Reynolds (36.8%) Tony Archer (64.7%) Phil Haines (25%)
Advertisement
Advertisement

For the third time Perenara – although only marginally – is the official under whom a side gets their best results, the Titans in this instance. On the other end is Reynolds. The Titans have won just over a third of their games under him. Referees supremo Tony Archer is the referee under whom the Titans experienced their best results.

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
56.6% Gerard Sutton (60%) Adam Gee (30%) Graeme West (80%) Adam Gee (30%)

Despite their poor season to date, the Sea Eagles over the last decade have a good winning percentage. When Gerry Sutton has controlled their games they have won 60 per cent of the time. While it isn’t as good as how they went under Graeme West back in the day, the Brookvale Boys would vastly prefer it to what has happened under Adam Gee.

North Queensland Cowboys

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
53.1% Chris Sutton (64.7%) Grant Atkins (40%) Chris James (82.4%) Mark Oaten (30.8%)

Once more Chris Sutton is on the extreme edge of a side’s results. In this instance the Cowboys win two-thirds of the games he controls. Chris James finished up without warning at the conclusion of last season. However, when he controlled Cowboys games they won four times out of five.

Cowboys Johnathan Thurston and Jason Taumalolo

(AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Advertisement
Advertisement

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
54.8% Ash Klein (67.6%) Ben Cummins (44.9%) Barry Barnes (84%) Steve Lyons (30%)

The Belmore faithful must love seeing Ash Klein rock up as they win two-thirds of the time he controls their games. However, under Ben Cummins they only have a 45 per cent win rate. Back in the day the Doggies got a lot of wins under Barry Barnes, losing only 16 per cent of the time.

Paramatta Eels

Ten year winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage Worst referee and winning percentage Best referee and winning percentage (historical) Worst referee and winning percentage (historical)
40.4% Adam Gee (60%) Gerard Sutton (28.6%) Matt Hewitt (81.8%) Col Pearce (13.6%)

Col Pearce’s record of having the Eels lose 86.4 per cent of their games under him is the biggest losing outlier I found. Gerry Sutton controlled a lot of the Eels games in 2011, 2012 and 2013, which helps explain their poor win ratio under him.

[latest_videos_strip category=”league” name=”League”]

As stated above, I am firmly of the belief that none of the referees are biased for or against any sides. These are dedicated professionals who take pride in their impartiality and proficiency. These statistics only demonstrate that every statistical set has outliers, nothing more.

Advertisement
Advertisement

While it could be argued that some referees are responsible for more than their fair share of the outliers, that is probably drawing a long bow too.

So next time you hear someone say that this ref is biased against their side, refer them to the statistics.