Referees co-coach Bill Harrigan answers your most frequently asked questions on the officiating of NRL games in 2011.
What are you most happy with this year?
I’ve been really happy with how the referees have gone back to basics this year and the game is looking more and more like rugby league. Players now play the ball with their foot and are playing the ball on the mark, which had become a little sloppy. Scrums look like scrums and the game has been cleaned up, largely thanks to our referees following through with our edict to go back to basics. We have already seen 18 tries directly off the back of scrums which is up from last year and I think that is due to the scrums binding correctly, giving attacking players more of a chance to show all their skills.
I think this has enhanced the game and the diehard followers and supporters’ feedback has been very positive on this aspect.
But most pleasing is that the referees are officiating with confidence and making the tough decisions. We have promoted three new referees this year and they have all performed outstandingly. Gavin Morris, Gavin Reynolds and Luke Phillips have all made the step up and I think there will be more to come, which is very encouraging.
Why was a try awarded to the Dragons against the Bulldogs on Friday night when it appeared the ball had been passed off the ground?
I’m comfortable with the decision, but I agree that it is a 50-50 call. What I think is important with this try is watching it in normal speed, when you see it live the timing is just acceptable. When you watch it in slow-motion, it distorts it and makes you second guess whether the tackle has been completed or not. On this one, I go with the normal speed and I think it was ok.
Why was Broncos lock Corey Parker sent to the sin-bin against Penrith? Should the referee have touched the player?
Parker was sent to the bin for dissent towards the referee and I’m comfortable with that ruling. In this instance the referee made an innocuous gesture by touching Corey Parker. I do prefer that referees don’t touch a player in any circumstance.
I’ve spoken to the referee Matt Cecchin and he wishes that he didn’t touch Parker, even though it was only a light touch on the shoulder. It wasn’t a major issue, it was a simple touch on the shoulder, and it shouldn’t be made any bigger than that. Our policy is not to touch a player under any circumstance.