Referee Coaches vow to clean up play-the-ball

NRL Referees Coaches Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper have vowed to clean up the play-the-ball and ensure more traditional scrums in 2011 Telstra Premiership rule guidelines outlined at today’s meeting between NRL referees and coaches at ANZ Stadium.

Raper and Harrigan today received support from NRL coaches for their ‘back to basics’ approach to refereeing that will excite fans keen to see some of the fundamental rules of the game strictly enforced while encouraging the exciting play that captivates fans week in, week out, during the season.

Under the guidelines outlined at today’s meeting:
- Referees will strictly enforce the on-side rule at restarts of play;
- Players will be penalised for not playing the ball on the mark;
- Scrums will be properly bound and players must not break until the referee has called ‘out’;
- The obstruction rule remains the same but if, in the opinion of the referee/video referee, the play had no effect on the scoring of a try then it will be awarded.

“We’re not changing the rules, we are simply making a season-long commitment to enforce some of the fundamental principles in our game that will ensure a cleaner, fairer play-the-ball and give both the attacking and defensive teams a reward for their efforts,” Harrigan said today.

“Not playing the ball on the mark, being off-side at restarts, these are things that really frustrate fans and they will appreciate that part of the game being improved.

“We want all teams to be able to play their best football and this approach will certainly give them that opportunity.”

Raper said today’s meeting reflected the open communication lines that exist between NRL coaches and the game’s officials.

“We have spent much of the off-season talking with coaches and our team of referees have been involved in assisting clubs at training sessions to prepare for the new season,” he said.

“These guidelines are just part of that communication process and we will continue to work with the coaches and have an open dialogue with them throughout the season.”