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Referees boss admits mistake

National Rugby League Referees Coaches Stuart Raper and Bill Harrigan have reviewed both benefit of the doubt tries from last night’s match between the Sea Eagles and the Cowboys, concluding that one should not have been awarded.

A review of the try awarded to Michael Oldfield shows that there was enough evidence in the view of the coaches to determine that Kieran Foran did make contact with the ball in the lead-up to the try and that a ‘knock-on’ should have been awarded.

A review of the try awarded to Jorge Taufua confirmed that ‘benefit of the doubt’ was an appropriate call and that the try should have been awarded.

“We simply have to put our hands up and accept that this is not an acceptable outcome in such an important game,” NRL Referees Co-Coach Stuart Raper said today.

“Bill and I have reviewed things this morning and while we accept the video referees were faced with an incredibly tough decision there was sufficient evidence to suggest Foran made contact with the ball.

“That will inevitably lead to the officials in question paying the penalty for that outcome in coming weeks.”

Bill Harrigan said the benefit of the doubt rule required the officials to give the benefit of the doubt to the attacking team in situations where the evidence was inconclusive.

“In this case, however, we believe there was enough evidence of a touch to move this decision beyond benefit of the doubt,” he said.

“We just need to get these things right and that is what we will be trying to do.”

Interim NRL Chief Executive, Mr Shane Mattiske, said today that refereeing remained a key area of the game that was under ongoing scrutiny.

“There are reviews underway in terms of refereeing pathways and coaching systems and these will be addressed at the end of the season,” he said.

“The time to review refereeing is not in the atmosphere of post-match debate but it is important that we take stock of the entire season and do all we can to ensure that players fans and coaches can have confidence in the process.”

NRL General Manager of Football Operations, Mr Nathan McGuirk, has already overseen an upgrade of equipment within video refereeing.

“Admitting that our video referees will make errors is something which we simply can’t accept,” he said.

“Where they are in a position to make a decision it is important they get it right by using the technology they have in place.”

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