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Referees Co-coach Bill Harrigan answers your most frequently asked questions from Round 2.

Question: Should the referee in the Wests Tigers v Warriors game have sent the decision upstairs to the video referee – what is your position on these incidents moving forward?

The policy that we have given the referees in 2011 is that if you are in the correct position and are confident in the result: make the decision.

Refereeing is all about confidence and confidence breeds confidence.

In the game between Wests Tigers and the Warriors, Alan Shortall was the referee in charge and was in perfect position to make a call, he believed that the ball had been grounded and therefore the play was dead and immediately blew his whistle to indicate this.

I cannot fault him for that and I support him because he did exactly what we have asked – he was in the right position and he made a call.

Unfortunately he got the decision wrong.  When you make decisions, inevitably you are occasionally going to make mistakes.

Should he have sent the decision upstairs?  In this instance, I don’t believe so. He was in position and believed 100% that the ball had been grounded and immediately made his decision.

Question: Will more decisions be sent upstairs in the future?


Contrary to some media reports about all kicks in future being referred to the video referee, we will not be telling the referees to do any such thing.

The policy stands, if you are in the right position and are confident, make a decision.

It was only after the replay was shown that the problem surfaced. On the run, the call looked right and the players didn’t complain.

I applaud Alan Shortall because later in that game he would undoubtedly have been tipped off that there had been a mistake made, yet he refereed that game very well throughout and didn’t let it affect him. That is the sign of a quality referee, to have the ability to put it in the past and continue making decisions.

To keep going and not let it affect him is strong refereeing and that is why I fully support him even though he got the decision wrong.

Had he been out of position or running behind the play and not sent the decision upstairs, then I would certainly have questioned his decision. That was not the case.

Questions: Why are scrums taking so much time, will this change?

We want scrums to look like scrums and they are in the guidelines for 2011. We are doing that by making the players bind properly and not letting the players break until the ball is out.

This allows seven backs to take on seven backs, it allows teams to play off the back of a scrum and it makes the scrum which is a rugby league tradition, look like a scrum.

The referees have spent a lot of time and effort on scrums over the last two weeks and as of Round 3, we are going to be talking less and starting to blow the whistle. 

I think that will make fans happy, because some of the scrums have taken a bit of time and we know we will go through a little bit of grief in the first few weeks while the players get used to it, because they haven’t been scrimmaging properly for a long time. 

Now it’s time for action, if the players do not bind correctly, we won’t be telling them, they will be penalized.