Referees need all of our support

Poor video refereeing decisions ultimately cost both clubs two premiership points, and because this competition is so close, those points could be invaluable come September.


Without wanting to over-dramatise the errors, it is feasible the Cowboys and/or the Rabbitohs could miss the finals because of officialdom blunders.


And while the repercussions from that possibility do not bear thinking about, particularly from the perspective of the Cowboys, the big loser is the game itself.


The negative vibe which has emanated from these two decisions – and subsequent to the controversy following the Storm try after the siren last Monday night – is not what rugby league needs.


The adage ‘all publicity is good publicity’ is certainly not the case here.


Coaches, club officials and players are obviously distraught when their team is dudded by a poor decision, but they are in a position to have their protest heard.


But for the most important stakeholders in the game – the fans – there is no recourse.


For them their protest is to boycott the game, just as many did during the Super League war in the mid-90s.


And rugby league at the moment, riding the crest of a wave financially, cannot afford that.


But we need to be careful of our harsh censure because errors by referees will never be eradicated from the game.


Referees are humans and will make mistakes.


Personally, I loathe the video referee.


I hate the fact it slows up the game; I hate the fact we have to sit there and watch replays ad infinitum and still not come up with the correct result; I hate the fact the emotion fans feel when their team scores has to be put on hold while the scoring process is reviewed.


What we have lost with the introduction of the video referee is that the man with the whistle no longer has the confidence to back his gut feeling.


Great referees of the past – Col Pearce, Don Lancashire, Keith Page, Darcy Lawler, Greg Hartley and Bill Harrigan – would not have the reputation they carry had they been scrutinised as closely as their modern day counterparts.


Despite my loathing of the video referee, I remain a staunch supporter of the men in the middle.


They have the most demanding job in the game yet make fewer mistakes than the players.


We need to be very careful that if we continue to berate them for their errors, no one will want to take up the job.


Then we will have no option – robots, in the form of a video – will be in charge.

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