Despite many a chant from the terraces, the majority of sports fans don’t believe referees set out to have a poor day at the office. Despite the sponsorship deals on the officiating jerseys, the majority of sports fans don’t believe referees need glasses.
But at every level those involved in sports, from players to coaches to fans in the stands and at home, we all need the referees to be able to do their jobs well.
This season I have had the opportunity to watch the NRL Australian Rugby League, and there they employ two on-field officials, as well as the two normal line judges.
As a result, the game flows more easily, basic laws are enforced, and the matches are throughly enjoyable with plenty of big runs and big hits.
Conversely, Super League English Rugby League, relies upon one on-field official, two line-judges, and two in-goal judges, whose main jobs appears to stand around getting very cold and then be ignored as the referee refers anything over the try line to the video-ref for that all important sponsorship time on the big-screen.
A huge amount of time is wasted in the ruck area, with attacking players being held down in the wrestle, knowing full well that the referee is busy getting the defence onside, and you can always claim you couldn’t hear him telling you to stand from 10m away.
It isn’t the officials’ fault.
But in Super League, if I turned the play-the-ball into a drinking game with shot glasses, at the end of an average game I could happily get in my car and drive into town without any concern of being over the drink-drive limit.
Don’t believe me? The next game you watch count the times you see a foot actually touch the ball and play it backwards, let alone the player regaining his feet before placing the ball upon the ground.
The players and coaches have a responsibility to abide by the laws, but titles and sponsorship deals come by winning games.
So let’s help the game out and get two officials on the pitch.
If we can afford to have two people stood in-goal for an entire game doing practically nothing, then we can get more people blowing the whistle.
Come on Super League get the game together. Make chants about the referees a thing of the past. Enforce the laws and make the game significantly more of a spectacle.