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Official View: No change for finals

Stuart Raper NRL.com Mon, Sep 05, 2011 - 4:29 PM

Tony Archer is just one of the referees in contention for a Grand Final berth in four weeks time. Copyright: NRL Photos

Each week referees co-coaches Stuart Raper and Bill Harrigan look at the most pressing issues involving referees. This week Raper writes about the upcoming Telstra remiership Finals Series, and explains the open relationship between referees and coaches.

We are coming into semi-finals now and what we did see over the weekend were some really intense, semi-final type games; we were pretty happy with how our referees performed over the weekend.

There were a few issues brought to light by the Cronulla coach and captain, but on debrief we were pretty happy with our referees' performances.

There was probably only one decision in that game that we got wrong, where there was a knock-on call, other than that the referees were quite good. We had a thorough debrief, just like we do for all games, and we believe we actually got right the ‘contentious’ decisions that were raised at the post-match press conference.

Going into the semi-finals, we have instructed everyone that we will be sticking with the guidelines and I’ll be sending an e-mail to all of the coaches, firstly congratulating them on making the top eight, but also reminding them of how officials will not change their attitudes or the way they go about their refereeing.

We have said from before the season started that our referees will stick to the guidelines and they have been doing that for 26 weeks.

We have had some tough decisions to make on refereeing positions this year; we have to now narrow it down to eight referees for this round, then obviously four after that.

The coaching staff have found it tough to decide who misses out - there are going to be some disappointed guys who won't be refereeing finals football. But it is by no means a blight on their performance; we have been happy with how our squad has refereed over the course of 26 rounds.

Over the course of the season we evaluate every game, do debriefs and give reports back to the coaches. We send a coach's report for a couple of reasons;

Firstly, we explain the process if there is any doubt over a decision.

Secondly, we verify if that decision was right or wrong, because there are times when we are wrong and we put up our hand and admit to a mistake. At other times we explain why our decision was right and explain why a decision has been made.

Thirdly, if we see that a player is pushing the ten metres, is blocking players, is too slow in the ruck or is a bad marker defender, for example, we let the coaches know so as to help them out with their discipline. We try to avoid penalties and want to let the games flow. If the coaches know what may cause a penalty or who the repeat offenders are, it is then up to them as to what they do with the information we send. But it just lets them know there may be issues with a particular player if they continue on a certain path.

Coaches also ring us all the time for clarification on decisions. We try to cover every aspect of the game, but obviously a lot happens over eight games every weekend, so there are always questions from coaches.

We are always there to talk to the coaches; it is an open dialogue for us to help each other.