With the 2015 NRL season only three rounds old, there have already been too many instances of poor decisions being made by the video referee. One wonders why the NRL has the system if the referees continue to get it wrong.
The NRL Laws and Interpretations regarding video refereeing are straight forward and indicate that, when called upon, the video referee will assess if there is ‘sufficient evidence’ to confirm or overturn the decision made on the field. If there is ‘sufficient evidence’ that the on field ruling is correct, the decision is to be confirmed. Conversely if there is ‘sufficient evidence’ that the decision is incorrect, the decision is to be reversed. If there is ‘insufficient evidence’ the on field decision should be confirmed.
Just looking at the last round, there were three referrals that bear scrutiny. In the first game of the round Manly were awarded a try to Steve Matai after video review. The ruling on the field was ‘no try’. The video evidence did not show anything conclusive and certainly did not provide ‘sufficient evidence’ of a try. When viewed in the light of the NRL Laws, the on field decision should clearly have been maintained. But it wasn’t. Fortunately, the decision did not affect the outcome of the match.
In the second instance, both the on field referee and the video ref both missed a knock on prior to a Newcastle try, that just about everyone else in the stadium and viewing on television saw. It looked very clear on the video replay. The Knights wen on to defeat the Gold Coast Titans 20-18. The botched call cost the Titans the match and two precious points.
Finally, a try to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was disallowed notwithstanding the video evidence showed the ball was grounded in the corner. Video ref Shayne Hayne agreed with the on field official’s no try decision even though the video showed there were four of Watene-Zelezniak’s fingers on the ball.
NRL referee’s boss Tony Archer, after looking at these decisions conceded the Newcastle decision was incorrect but said there won’t be a change to the system. I would agree! The Rules relating to video referral are quite sufficient if they are adhered to. Further education on the Rules needs to be provided to the people who are reviewing the decisions. If that doesn’t lead to improvement, then the NRL needs some new video refs.
Players, coaches and fans all deserve to have consistent interpretations so that they can have confidence in the system. Anything less is not good enough.