The National Rugby League has made the
right move in deciding to scrutinise publicly any controversial decisions by
referees and other officials after each weekend’s matches. And the NRL deserves even more credit
because the “decision to review decisions” might put even greater focus on the
performance of referees and video referees – if that is possible.

The first report was released by the NRL on
Monday, and can be accessed at www.nrl.com.
For the rugby league addict it makes fascinating reading.

The report reviews thirteen decisions by
referees and video referees in five of the seven games played. The most
contentious concerns the Bulldogs Brent Sherwin’s try in the Dragons v Bulldogs
blockbuster – and the review believes that “on balance” the video referee got
it wrong, and the try should not have been awarded.

Now that is little comfort to Dragons
supporters – especially as the Bulldogs won by a converted try, but it is an
important step along the road towards greater transparency and accountability,
and officials getting decisions right as much as possible.

The report questions two other decisions –
one a forward pass that referee Steve Clark missed in the Dragons v Bulldogs
game, and the failure of referee Tony Archer to award a penalty for obstruction
in the Raiders v Tigers game, which was decided by a “golden point” penalty
conversion after the sides were tied at full time.

The one risk with the new review process is
that it might further erode the confidence of referees and other officials,
but, in the long term it should lead to a greater proportion of contentious
decisions being right.

The argument over the extent of the use of
the referee won’t go away – but this week’s NRL decision at least puts more
transparency and accountability into the process. Timely, and right!

Peter Fray

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