As the NRL finals approach for 2008, as with every year – the pressure on the referees and officials takes an upward trend. Naturally, clubs are desperate to make the finals and wrong calls can literally make or break a teams season.
Of most concern during NRL 2008 and recent seasons is the ‘lottery’ each time a try is referred to a video referee. It seems 99.9% of supporters, commentators and teams are prepared for anything – as interpretations and slow motion video footage seem to suck the common sense out of video officials.
Think about when you are watching your own team play in the NRL, you see a certain try scored – however when it’s referred to the video referee you start biting your nails thinking – “What kind of mood is the video ref in?” “Will he suddenly ‘look’ for a reason not to give the try?” “Oh no, he is replaying the footage more than 4 times, this can’t be good”
Then all of a sudden a ref’s call decision comes up; which is the last thing on everyones mind – just to confuse the issue.
It seems NRL fans around the country are feeling the same, this email below typifies the response we are seeing almost weekly at NRL News:
We have never written to anyone regarding the NRL and its handling of refereeing matters until now.Â However, each year we have slowly watched the erosion of quality of refereeing in the NRL.Â Today we regularly see inconsistency in decision making on a week to week basis, which has significantly impactedÂ the results of many NRL games.Â It appears that either the selected referees/assistant referees do not have the aptitude to continue to learn and improve their skills or their training regime leaves a lot to be desired and a change at the top needs to be made for 2009.
We are constantly reminded that the game will need to improve in all aspects to ensure its survival and competitiveness given pressures from other clubs etc.Â Unfortunately this does not appear to be happening.Â We are, and continue to be subject to below standard, inconsistent refereeing.Â This leads to frustration on the part of fans and a lack of desire to continue to follow a game which appears to be blighted by incompetence or an ongoing lethargy to improve the standard of performance of referees/assistant referees.
While we understand that referees/assistant referees may be hard to find and under weekly pressure, surely there is a better selection method than the one currently used.Â We are astounded that referees/assistant referees are only able to police one aspect of the game each week, they do not appear to be able to understand/interpret the NRL rules in a common sense manner and at times appear to have already prejudged the outcome prior to the game being played.Â We have noted in a number of statistics that certain referees appear biased against certain teams â€“ this behaviour is not acceptable and should be dealt with immediately.Â I am sure that you keep your own statistics in relation to these issues.
Higher mortgage rates, rises in fuel costs etc all affect the family budget and what a family is able to spend its money on.Â The lack of commitment in ensuring higher quality refereeing will certainly start to make our family think twice about attending games.Â We have attended numerous away games, NRLÂ Grand Finals etc as we enjoy the game.Â However over the last couple of years we have not done so as the standard of refereeing/assistant refereeing has continued to fall and has not been improved or assisted by clearer rules.
We feel it is time to replace Mr Finch and hopefully refresh either the methods of training or the quality of those selected to referee first grade games â€“ the introduction of a few females perhaps wouldnâ€™t go astray.
We understand that you donâ€™t look at criticism of referees until the end of the season â€“ we hope you consider our views (which are not dissimilar to those that we sit next to at games) and implement changes.