Full time in rugby league games was once
peppered with the kind of controversy the AFL Commission confronts
today, but technology and rule changes have minimised controversy.

The NRL has at least three checks which
reduce disputes relating to full time. It has not eliminated them entirely –
but the debacle the AFL has to deal with would be almost impossible in the NRL premiership
today.

Firstly, “full time” does not apply from
when the siren is sounded as occurs in the AFL. The referee alone calls full time. He is
supposed to do so only at the end of the movement happening when the siren
sounds. That might be when the player with the ball is tackled, or there is a
knock on, or the ball is kicked over the touchline.

There have been numerous examples of tries,
goals and field goals being scored after the siren but before the referee calls
full time. And they are within the rules of the game.

The second check is that the referee is
required to raise his arm to indicate he had heard the siren. If he does not do
so, the siren is sounded again and again until he does so. That used to happen reasonably frequently.

But the third check means it is seldom necessary.
The referees in all NRL matches are able to communicate by two way radio with
the touch judges, and the video referee. It is a controversial provision, but a
useful one. If the referee does not hear the siren, the
touch judges, or the video referee will alert him.

If the AFL wants to avoid the
weekend debacle, it should wire its umpires the same way, or, if it wants to be
more radical, put in place an even more error proof system – play will end only when the umpire only
calls it.

Rugby league’s full time
process is not 100 per cent error proof – but about as close to it as it is possible to get.

Peter Fray

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