Referees urged to raise game

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The relationship between referees and coaches has not always been an easy one, and the evidence of the past few days is that something has gone wrong with it this season.

The relationship between referees and coaches has not always been an easy one, and the evidence of the past few days is that something has gone wrong with it this season.

Five coaches are under investigation for alleged breaches of the rules governing, among other things, the use of the technical area and abusive language to officials. That is in addition to Huddersfield's Jon Sharp and St Helens' Ian Millward, who were already being investigated.

Coaches have been more vociferously dissatisfied with referees this season than at any other time in memory. There are reasons. One is that the absence of Stuart Cummins for a few weeks following illness has left the refereeing department with a vacuum at the top. Coaches felt that their concerns were not being addressed, but in theory there should be better communication now that Cummins is back.

He will not be able to do much in the short term, however, to combat the general impression that too many Super League games are being controlled - or not - by referees who are not quite up to the task. The situation is exacerbated by the absence in Australia of Britain's best referee, Russell Smith, who is showing all the signs of wanting to stay out there permanently. Inevitably, some of the new generation lack his authority and know-how. This has coincided with one of the League's clampdowns on dissent, which has strained relations between referees and coaches.

By comparison with football, rugby league does not have a dissent problem. Nobody wants to see referees being chased around the pitch by players screaming obscenities. But the purge has been embraced so enthusiastically by some referees that penalties have been given for a shrug of the shoulders or, in one case, for pulling a face.

That was the sort of thing that led the Bradford and Great Britain coach, Brian Noble, to make an ill-judged remark about how Nazi Germany had started, thus making sure he would join those under investigation.

Comments