Improving referee quality

There is a lot of talk on here about the poor quality of refereeing. This tread isn’t designed to bag or promote the referees but to try and provide some insight. As some may have worked out from some of my posts I have refereed the game at a local level. I still occasionally have a run but family and work commitments limit my availability.

Firstly any referee who has made it to the top grade has put in a lot of work to get there. They have had to work their way up from refereeing at a junior level through minis, mods to international and this can take a few years. From there they have to consistently perform to be invited to participate in junior reps where they get high level training from experienced referees. From there they are graded and do senior competition matches (NSW Cup, Sydney Shield etc.). This progress would take a good 8-10 years and you are still a level away from NRL. During this time you are paid a minimal amount for the games that you do and would also be working a full time job and balancing family commitments. So it is a lot of hard work and dedication to the game of Rugby League.

Most of the refs that I know want come in two categories they are either young kids who want to make a bit of pocket money (a lot of them still playing as well) and guys who are a bit older who want to give back to the game.

Now most people think that it is an easy job but there are a number of rules you need to be aware of and these changes depending on the level of competition you are refereeing. On top of that you are running around for the entire game and are regularly asked to do 4 and 5 games back to back with minimal rest. It’s quite difficult to be mentally switch on for long periods under fatigue.

On top of this you have a lot of people who want to yell at you and tell you that you are wrong consistently. When you are on the field the crowd noise is generally just noise however you hear the odd comment. I have a pretty thick skin and cop it most of the time but some times its over the top and is just wrong. I often wonder if they yell at other people who are just trying to do their job.

The on field stuff is a bit whatever and is mainly people getting caught up in the game. It’s the stuff you have to deal with after the game or from trainers that is turning referees away. Incidents aren’t isolated and occur much to regularly and I have seen club officials and junior leagues cover up disgusting behaviour with little more than a warning to not do it again.

Personally I am always happy to talk to trainers, coaches and managers after a game to discuss any decision and regularly these are positive experiences but regularly they are not. For example recently a coach wanted to ask me a question and continued to tell me that I was too harsh on his under 9’s team because I blew a penalty for not playing the play straight. Now this is a fundamental rule of the game but a calmly explained to him that I had warned his boys on the previous two play the balls and was reminding them the 3rd time to 'play it straight, play it straight" and that his boys weren’t listening. Now this set him off and he preceded to yell at me and then a mother decides to walk passed and tell me how the way I spoke to the boys on the field was terrible. Now I have two adults yelling at me over one decision they didn’t like in an under 9’s game.

Previous I have seen trainers yell at 15 year olds who are making calls with some support from the touch line (as you would expect) because they are not confident enough to make a call themselves. This trainer even threaten to fight me when I step in and told him to calm down or he would have to move behind the rope. Even with a report put in for this behaviour the trainer so still there the following week.

As you can see if is a lot of work to be a referee at a local level all for a little bit of money and the love of the game. In my opinion if we want to see the quality of refereeing improve in the NRL we need to look at the grass roots and protect our junior referees so that they want to stay in the game. Personally I’m in my mid 30s and never had aspirations of being a professional referee but even I prefer to do mini football now where you can just focus on kids developing their skills and enjoying the game. I have seen many a great junior referee who has potential give the game away because of the way that they are treated. If junior leagues and clubs got really strict on this stuff and not just put a sign at the ground telling people to behave, we would have a stronger referee base that could only lead to stronger referees.

Sorry that was so long.

They should have them referee mock games. When they get something wrong, deliver an electric shock. This would have the benefit of electrocuting half the current crop as they are getting almost everything wrong.

Great post chook… Agree with it all bar

Now most people think that it is an easy job

I’ve done sidelines and even got it wrong

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Great post chook… Agree with it all bar

Now most people think that it is an easy job

I’ve done sidelines and even got it wrong

Cheer Ink. Yeah that’s probably an exaggeration but it feels like that at times

Gives a different perspective on things.

I don’t doubt their commitment or the effort they had to put in to get to the top. A bloke I used to go to school with has appeared as a sideline ref in the NRL a few times last year and he has been working at refereeing since he was 13 or 14.

That being said there’s some criminal errors being made. Not sure if going back to one ref will fix it at least from a consistency POV.

Even the guys with eight camera angles and six thousand replays can’t get it right with all the time in the world to look at it, what hope do we have for the blokes in the middle calling it in real time?

I don’t think that the guys in the middle are totally at fault. The NRL continually stuff around with the rules and interpretations. They have got themselves into this position over many years of “managing” the game rather than refereeing it. At the basic level the rules are fairly simple.

Get rid of rules that allow various interpretations (you could do a doctorate thesis on the obstruction rule interpretation), have a set of rules and apply them in every instance. There will be mistakes, but these are easier to swallow if:

  • there is a lot less grey area
  • the referees are consistent in applying the rules
  • they are willing to stick their hands up & own their decisions, including admitting a mistake rather than trying to introduce more grey are through trying to justify a garbage decision.

I agree with both of you guys. They have over complicated things and people don’t seem to know what is going on. I think that the refs need a platform to explain decisions and how they were made. Not a press conference but a program/statement on the NRL where they actually explain aspects of refereeing the game. This needs to be given air time as a discussion on wider NRL shows so the entire rugby league community can have clarity.

In saying that I think they need a bigger base of refs so their is more accountability. There are a lot of quality guys in NSW and QLD cup from the games I’ve seen who should be pressuring the top guys but you can’t get a run unless you are in the NRL squad.

They also need to publicly execute Tony Archer. Things have gone downhill terribly under his watch

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They also need to publicly execute Tony Archer. Things have gone downhill terribly under his watch

If I’m honest met him and don’t like him.

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They also need to publicly execute Tony Archer. Things have gone downhill terribly under his watch

They got rid of him replaced by Gerrard Sutton…

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They also need to publicly execute Tony Archer. Things have gone downhill terribly under his watch

They got rid of him replaced by Gerrard Sutton…

Sutton is NRL referees boss, but Archer is still his boss as National Director of referees (yes more overheads at NRL headquarters for less performance).

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I agree with both of you guys. They have over complicated things and people don’t seem to know what is going on. I think that the refs need a platform to explain decisions and how they were made. Not a press conference but a program/statement on the NRL where they actually explain aspects of refereeing the game. This needs to be given air time as a discussion on wider NRL shows so the entire rugby league community can have clarity.

In saying that I think they need a bigger base of refs so their is more accountability. There are a lot of quality guys in NSW and QLD cup from the games I’ve seen who should be pressuring the top guys but you can’t get a run unless you are in the NRL squad.

Okay, so CFK, I am very bias towards my Tigers so I would appreciate your opinion as being a lot more balanced than mine. Do you think they are being bias against us? It seems we are hard done by every week, sin binning, called offside or going up too early or laying on them too long and the opposition are not marked by the same standards and do the same thing a lot more often and get away with it.

Is it my bias or is there consistency that they need to work on?

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I agree with both of you guys. They have over complicated things and people don’t seem to know what is going on. I think that the refs need a platform to explain decisions and how they were made. Not a press conference but a program/statement on the NRL where they actually explain aspects of refereeing the game. This needs to be given air time as a discussion on wider NRL shows so the entire rugby league community can have clarity.

In saying that I think they need a bigger base of refs so their is more accountability. There are a lot of quality guys in NSW and QLD cup from the games I’ve seen who should be pressuring the top guys but you can’t get a run unless you are in the NRL squad.

Okay, so CFK, I am very bias towards my Tigers so I would appreciate your opinion as being a lot more balanced than mine. Do you think they are being bias against us? It seems we are hard done by every week, sin binning, called offside or going up too early or laying on them too long and the opposition are not marked by the same standards and do the same thing a lot more often and get away with it.

Is it my bias or is there consistency that they need to work on?

Personally I don’t think we are overly hard done by. Yes we have coped some bad calls but I think that all teams have copped their share of bad calls this year. I can see why people feel we have copped it because we all have a little bias towards the Tigers.

Ten metre calls and holding down are always hard because you could blow a penalty almost every play if you wanted so that is where good talk and the players responding comes into it.

This year the sin bin has been a bit much and it is hard to tell when and where they are going to use it.

Thanks for the perspective. It is a tough job, I have less sympathy for NRL refs and respectfully disagree with your assessment of our games and the standard of reffing in general. However, because of the problems you point out at grassroots level, it is unlikely the current situation will lead to a greater pool of talent.

Parents, trainers etc…. should be charged the same way they would if they blew up that way because of road rage. No wonder so many kids and young adults these days don’t understand accountability, look at the example we adults have set.

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I agree with both of you guys. They have over complicated things and people don’t seem to know what is going on. I think that the refs need a platform to explain decisions and how they were made. Not a press conference but a program/statement on the NRL where they actually explain aspects of refereeing the game. This needs to be given air time as a discussion on wider NRL shows so the entire rugby league community can have clarity.

In saying that I think they need a bigger base of refs so their is more accountability. There are a lot of quality guys in NSW and QLD cup from the games I’ve seen who should be pressuring the top guys but you can’t get a run unless you are in the NRL squad.

Okay, so CFK, I am very bias towards my Tigers so I would appreciate your opinion as being a lot more balanced than mine. Do you think they are being bias against us? It seems we are hard done by every week, sin binning, called offside or going up too early or laying on them too long and the opposition are not marked by the same standards and do the same thing a lot more often and get away with it.

Is it my bias or is there consistency that they need to work on?

They have been consistent all year in all games - consistently bad.

I would say all jokes aside - but it is not a joke.

How hard is it to be consistent - to penalise each team for the same rule breaks. not rocket science.

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