Ministry of Sport

NRL Divided Over Decision To Return To One Referee

After the NRL decided to return to one referee for the remainder of the 2020 NRL season when it starts back up on May 28, a host of NRL coaches, players and media members were divided on the change.

On Nine’s Sunday Footy Show, senior reporter, Brent Read, said it changes the structure of the competition, and with two rounds already in the books before the NRL season was suspended, it is ‘outrageous’.

“People forget we have had two rounds, we have started the competition,” Read said.

“People forget why we went to one referee to start with, because one referee couldn’t control the game.

“Now we are going to go back to it, it’s ridiculous,” he said.

Parramatta Eels coach, Brad Arthur, also didn’t agree with the decision to go back to one referee, saying it will cause too much confusion.

“I can understand and appreciate the thinking behind it around the expense of having two referees and where it might help the NRL,” Arthur told The Continuous Call Team.

“But I just think two rounds in, it’s pretty hard to change the rules now.

“It might just add confusion, we’re still getting used to the Captain’s Challenge.

“Going back to one referee, does that mean there might be more 50/50 calls that they might get wrong and there’s more Captain’s Challenges and then it slows the game down?

“I just think it might be hard this time round, maybe if we need it for next year, we’ve got a bit of time in the pre-season to get our heads around it and prepare for it,” he said.

While the general reception on the NRL’s latest decision is negative and confused, Dragons captain Cameron McInnes, told ABC Grandstand he is looking forward to the change and thinks it will help the flow of games.

“I like the idea of one ref, I wouldn’t say cheating is the word, but being able to push the boundaries is always good in sport,” McInnes said.

“Having one ref means you only get the one sort of interpretation, and in the next couple of weeks, we will talk about that.

“It probably shouldn’t be a big factor, but we all know that is,” he said.

The decision was the latest to come out from the Project Apollo working group, with NRL head of football, Graham Annesley, indicating the one referee system could be carried forward into future seasons.

“It’s probably a combination of a lot of things, one of the challenges we have is revenue, and because of the disruption to our season and no crowds, there is a question mark over revenue so we are looking where we can cut costs,” Annesley told ABC Grandstand.

“If it is a success, it will be considered beyond this season but there is a long way to go between now and then.

“No matter how many referees we have on the field, we are going to have controversy and we know that, it has been that way for 110 or so years,” he said.

Joshua Hodson

Joshua Hodson