Big refereeing changes in 2017
Josh Massoud and Liam Cox
7Sport on September 15, 2016, 6:45 am
Reeling all season from refereeing dramas, the game copped an unwanted sequence of body blows during the first weekend of finals action. The multitude of blunders that cruelled the Titans, combined with the failure to check Josh Morris’s legitimate touch down, sent fans into previously unfathomable layers of lather.
As the fire raged around them, NRL officials kept thinking back to the previous weekend – and their incident-free trial of the Captain’s Challenge in the meaningless Dragons-Knights clash. Under the new rule, whistleblowers were unable to refer tries to the bunker unless one of the captains challenged their rulings.
Ten tries were posted – and not one was referred. And every decision was correct – a remarkable ten out of ten.
What the NRL learned from the experiment is that putting the onus back on the players has a genuine capacity to release officials from levels of pressure that are clearly crippling them, not to mention impairing their general decision-making ability.
We’re hearing there’s now a very real chance the concept will be embraced fulltime next year; with both captains to receive two unsuccessful challenges per half. There’s also a chance the challenges will be renewed in the final ten minutes, when decisions can be particularly crucial.
The ultimate decision will be made by the NRL’s Competition Committee at the end of the year. We can’t support the idea enough; given how well the concept has been embraced in cricket and tennis.