“You Got to be kidding Ref!”…

By Daniel Andruczyk

These words could not be used to great effect by the captains of NRL teams. In what could be a big step to killing off controversial tries in the National Rugby League in Australia it is being proposed that captains get the ability to challenge the call of a referee, like in tennis.

See the article here.

If anyone has listened to my radio show over the last couple years, you would remember that Chris West and I discussed this issue at length on a couple of occasions after there were calls that the standard of refereeing has gone down. However such a system can potentially be a double edged sword. Now I am not against the idea as such, but it needs to be very carefully thought out and not just for the reason outlined in the article, the flow of the game.

Call at Own Risk

Now in the article, there are very few details that have been given out, suffice to say that this sub-committee has looked at the system in tennis. Basically there each player has three challenges a set they can use. if they get the call wrong then they loose it, if they get it correct then they maintain that call. Sounds simple enough. And like it was mentioned in the article, tennis is not a flowing game so a stop here and there does not effect the over all games flow.

If I was to implement such a system then it would be used in only one situation on the field, and that is when a controversial try has been scored. Anywhere else it will only serve to disrupt the game. But there is a further restriction I would put on that. Only the defending team has the right to make the call. Now if i remember correctly, the benefit of the doubt still goes to the attacking team on these calls. So any controversial call, where the play stops anyway, where the referee has made the decision can have the captain call for a review. I would have it set up as in Tennis, have three calls with a successful challenge leaving it there and any unsuccessful ones they lose it. This means that the role of the captain becomes even more important.

However, I can see the argument from people that the attacking team needs to also have the ability to challenge. The case where I can see this is in forward passes. Especially now that there is talk about using technology to be able to call the forward pass. If a referee calls a forward on a try, why can’t the attacking team ask to have that reviewed, and rightly so. I am not sure on the solution here. What I worry about is the two teams using claim and counter claim, to negate each other. The biggest fear is that the NRL will allow the claims to be made during the run of a match and so you will start to get a stop starting of the game as happens in the NFL, which is the last thing I want to see happen.

One Step Closer to No Rugby League

As good as this idea sounds and if implemented properly it could be good for the NRL, my biggest concern is that it will not apply to any other aspect of the sport. Other nations which do not have the luxury of using this system and internationals will once again not be subject to this. Once again the NRL will drift ever so slightly away from what Rugby League truly is and will start to become something that is only played in Australia and will become something on par with the AFL. Yes folks I said it. Actually I have been saying it for a couple years now. Australia and it dominance and bullying tactics it has used over the years to control the sport, in many respects it killing the sport in its own country. within 10 years the NRL will probably cease looking anything like the Rugby League that the rest of the world plays and thus we will have Australia either dropping out of rugby league or will start to loose its dominance because its players just aren’t used to the “Other” code. For Australian players, Test Matches will start to become something like the farce that the International Rules series is for the AFL and Irelands Gaelic Football.

Once again, it may seem that this is not a big thing, and compared to most its not, but it is a small thing that when it gets added onto everything else can make a huge difference to the sport not only in Australia but the rest of the world. My parting comment is this, this is once more evidence showing that we need to have a strong international governing body to step in and sort this out.


Daniel Andruczyk’s email: daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com
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