Leeds Rhinos battling Hull FC has produced some fantastic contests over the years, so I was left feeling rather disappointed that the game was overshadowed by the man in the middle yet again.
Robert Hicks is now one of the most experienced officials in the British game and whether you like him or not, he’s one of the best we have. Despite this, I can’t help feeling that we are becoming too reliant on the video referee for televised games and it is causing inconsistencies for non-televised games.
The first half lasted almost an hour, mainly due to several decisions sent upstairs by Hicks, this shouldn’t be happening as it can push away casual fans if there are too many stoppages. Rugby League is known for being hard hitting, fast paced and an all-round entertaining game, but whenever a try is scored teams can’t celebrate because they’re unsure if they have been awarded the try or not. The system really needs reviewing as we can’t carry on having the referee not having to be assertive during live matches but then must decide on the spot for a non-televised match.
Cricket operate the best review system as each team can review the umpire’s decision and if the decision is overturned then they get their review back. Why can’t we have something similar? It seems to be very rare that the decision is overturned so this would possibly shorten the length of halves by ten minutes keeping people interested.
If the RFL can’t afford to have video referees at every Super League game then this would make sense as it means the referees would have to make their mind up on the spot in every game they officiate, not just non-televised games when they can’t shy away from making a decision.
The product we have to offer has so much potential, but we just aren’t utilising it to the best of our ability.
One positive I can find from our match review system is that it is much better than the VAR nonsense going on in football at the minute. One reason video referees do work to an extent in Rugby League is because it can add excitement to games if it is used when needed, everyone watching the big screen hoping that their team have grounded the ball and T-R-Y will appear. But VAR in football just leaves confusion as no one who is watching knows what’s happening apart from the referee.
Hopefully when the new RFL chief executive is announced we will see some changes to keep the game moving forward and bringing in those TV ratings.