Sports Letters: Panel of judges

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The Independent Online
Sir: As one who spends most winter Saturday afternoons umpiring hockey, I have always been struck by the burdens imposed upon rugby union referees.

Time and again the referee appears to require eyes in the back of his head if, for example, he is to keep track of the defending side's backs while simultaneously controlling a ruck or maul in front of him.

Since the scope for illegalities in the ruck is clearly great, it is hardly surprising if referees sometimes seem to concentrate on that and end up letting offsides go by.

Perhaps the rugby authorities should consider empowering the touch judges to act like linesmen in football and signal offsides to the referee.

A greater fear of being caught offside because three pairs of eyes are on the job might go some way to counteracting the growing ability of defences to stifle attacking play.

Yours sincerely,



5 March