Twelve months ago we as league fans would laugh at Rugby, laugh as tries in Rugby were scored from a knock on, forward passes and obvious off sides. Well how the tides have turned I thought to myself as I watched the Broncos play the Dragons over the weekend. The Dragons first try was scored off a forward pass, Kelly scored after a dubious call of a strip. Tallis getting sin binned in Origin 1 is another example, the Dragons controversial draw against the Raiders, the Panthers last minute win against the Sharks. The list goes on, it doesn�t end there.
As league fans and as a code in general we expect our players to be at their best, we expect our clubs to do their best, we expect the NRL to do their job as best they can, and we also expect the refs to do their job as best they can, something that is not being done. So what is causing this sudden drop off in the refs ability? Have they had so much of the thought process and tough calls taken away from them that they coast through a game and miss things? It can�t be that the game is faster this year, as the new 10 metre rule as brought the teams closer together and made for some close tough games. There has to be a reason behind this, so what is it?
In my mind one of the contributing factors is that with the new 10 metre rule the teams are closer together. When you have two teams up in each others faces all day, the ref can see a lot less, his line of sight is a lot less than last year, therefore he doesn�t see a lot of the little things, the illegal strips, the odd high shot, the forward passes and off sides as much as when the teams were further apart.
So how do we address this, it can be done in a few ways.
Firstly, the touch judges need to be fully trained refs, they need to be good enough to be able to swallow a refs whistle at a minutes notice, we can�t expect them to make ref like decisions in the heat of battle without the training.
Secondly, the video ref needs more power, he needs to be able to call on a forward pass in a try, why can he now it�s an illegal play. He also needs to have the right to whisper knock on, off side number 12 and 4, high tackle in the refs ear throughout the whole game.
Finally, the refs, touchies and video refs need to be made accountable to the teams for their actions. When a player screws up he goes up to front a judiciary, why not the refs. A judiciary could be formed when needed, with one rep from each club a member, the ref could then get the same treatment the players do, a chance to defend themselves, plead guilty if they know they are wrong, and take time in the lower grades, and ACTUALLY want to learn from their mistakes.
The only other option I see is two refs on the field, and no one wants to see that. We as the fans deserve better, the teams and players deserve better. It�s not all the refs fault, they need help, so come on NRL give them the help they need, but also make then accountable for their actions.