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Volume 10 No. 22
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National Rugby League To Discuss Possibility Of Adding Third Official To Matches

The National Rugby League "will explore the possibility of using three referees after announcing a multi-million-dollar review aimed at improving the consistency, accuracy and ­efficiency of its oft-maligned match officials," according to Stuart Honeysett of THE AUSTRALIAN. NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg said that "he was confident any proposals could be implemented in time for the 2016 season." The NRL "has recruited former Australian cricket coach John Buchanan and rugby league Immortal and radio commentator Bob Fulton to assist with the process." Greenberg admitted that "referees had been one of the least-resourced areas of the game but the NRL was in a better position now to address that after signing a billion-dollar broadcast agreement last year" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/28). In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko wrote the so-called "central command centre," which would be situated in an off-site location, would follow the lead from the NHL and the NBA, which have already embraced the technology. Set to cost the game millions of dollars, it is "hoped the innovation will lead to the match review committee laying charges in real time, meaning coaches could have a charge sheet in front of them by the time they get to the post-game press conference."

Potential initiatives include:

  •  inserting a microchip into the ball or using laser technology to assist with rulings such as forward passes;
  •  further investigating captain's challenges;
  • digitizing time-keeping protocols so they are coordinated between venues and broadcasters;
  • encouraging women to join the refereeing ranks;
  • communicating decisions to fans in real time via social media.

Potentially the most contentious changes "could come from a review of the two-referee model." Some coaches "have been outspoken in their belief that consistency would improve if only one referee was engaged." However, Greenberg "floated the prospect of adding an extra whistleblower into the fray." Greenberg said, "When I say we'll look at the two-referee model, we could look at three referees. The game is so fast that there are more decisions; two referees are under significant fatigue as it is" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/27).

NRL REJECTS BID: In Sydney, Josh Massoud wrote the NRL "rejected a compensation bid from the Bulldogs for hosting back-to-back Thursday night matches," which are set to cost the club A$400,000 ($374,000) in lost gate takings. Canterbury CEO Raelene Castle "first raised the idea of compensation with the NRL three weeks ago." But the NRL said on Wednesday that "there would be no money forthcoming, despite the fact it was never intended that one club be burdened with two Thursday night fixtures in a row" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 8/28).