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Opinion

A Rugby League Solution

24 September 2020, 1:47AM 0 Comments

Written by Callum Walker

Photo by Getty Images

Bring in a quarter or half officiating periods and see referees thrive

If you created a list of occupations that are the most unpopular, refereeing would certainly be up there. Prone to abuse, the limelight and continued scrutiny, officials have an incredibly difficult job to do on the field. Yet, there is a way of making their job easier as well as lessening the flak from spectators and pundits.

Having a number of referees apportioned throughout a game in 20-minute or 40-minute stints would undoubtedly provide stability and increase the level of fairness throughout the full match. No matter how professional a referee, emotional judgement and fatigue are very realistic consequences as a game carries on. More often than not, therefore, second halves usually have more controversy.

Changing the referee around either every 20 or 40 minutes would eradicate that possibility because the incoming official will have played no part in the fixture up to that point. He or she would be both mentally and physically fresh, enhancing the level of effectiveness and hopefully the clarity of decisions: that’s all what players and fans want.

For fans and pundits, the best referees are those that you don’t see throughout a game – that is a rarity in the modern era. All spectators and viewers want is honesty; that’s not to say that current referees are insincere, but their job is influenced by what’s gone on before.

It is easy to say that officials are completely unbiased, but in the heat of the moment and after a long match they are susceptible to errors – just like in any other work environment. Incorporating new refereeing laws which would see the ‘substitution’ of officials every quarter or half would reduce the amount of errors as well as the extent to which fans get on the referees’ backs.

It’s almost like a clean slate will have been issued when a new referee comes in. Fans may say “thank goodness we’ve seen the back of that official” – or words to that effect – but that view would disappear as the 80 minutes wears on because that referee would be gone from that particular fixture.

Some critics may argue that there are not enough referees to go round for each fixture, particularly in Super League. But, trial it with every 40 minutes first – a half of one referee and the second with another – and see how it goes. As it is at the moment, there are simply too many errors made by the man- or woman-in-the-middle.

In such unprecedented times, a number of rules have already been tinkered with including the six again and the scrapping of scrums for Super League. What’s the harm in making the burden on officials easier by outlining plans to introduce refereeing halves too?

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