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Referees Co-coach Bill Harrigan answers your most frequently asked questions from the first weekend of games.

Q: Why were penalties given from drop-outs and kick-offs?

A: In relation to penalties over the weekend for players being offside at restarts and not drop-kicking the ball behind the line, some have said it is a little pedantic, however, the rules are the rules.

Everybody from coaches, players, commentators and fans were told that the referees would be penalizing teams and players for not abiding strictly to the rules.

We ask that the referees shouldn’t be criticized for being ‘pedantic’, they are the rules and everybody knows them. 

The idea is to put the onus on the players and the team to abide by the rules.

Why were the Dragons awarded a try when William Zillman was impeded by the referee, isn’t there a rule that says the referee can blow a whistle when a team is unfairly disadvantaged?

A: In relation to the game involving the Gold Coast Titans and St George Illawarra Dragons, where William Zillman ran into referee Phil Haines accidently. 

The Titans and Zillman did nothing wrong, St George did nothing wrong and the referee did nothing wrong. 

In this instance, we have an unfortunate situation where nobody is at fault, and that is why when it was referred to the video referee, the try was awarded.

There have been precedence on three other occasions of tries being allowed after a defender bumped into a referee and was probably disadvantaged by it, but nobody has been at fault in these incidents and the attacking team should not be disadvantaged through no fault of their own.

In relation to the rule quoted by Peter Sterling on the Sunday Footy Show, Section 16, 8.1(f): 8.1 The Referee must carry a whistle which he shall blow to commence and terminate each half of the game. Except for these occasions the blowing of the whistle shall temporarily stop the play. The Referee shall blow the whistle: (f) when any irregularity, not provided for in these Laws, occurs and one team unjustifiably gains an advantage.

The key here is whether one team unjustifiably gained an advantage, some have argued that the Titans were disadvantaged, but you could also argue the Dragons would have been unjustifiably denied a try had the try been taken off them.

The referee cannot be expected to disappear, it is just an unfortunate thing that happens very rarely in the game.

The referee has to stand somewhere and if you were to change the rule there would be the temptation for defenders to go out and make contact with the referee.

The sort of thing we saw on Saturday night has only occurred about three times in my time in the game and the rule has been applied the same way in each instance.