AFTER some dusty performances as a collective, the standard has picked up for this round but it still needs a heap of improvement to get to first grade standard.
ROUND 23 has seen probably the worst standard of refereeing across the board in a long while. Whilst some games may contain ?dubious? decisions for any given round, this wasn?t the case here. Most of the games played contained decisions which were not of first grade calibre.
FROM what I observed in Round 21, it was collectively a good performance all round from the referees, with only the one effort from Simpkins, bringing the marks down. I was really impressed by the overall outcome from the referees.
WELL this round has been indifferent in some ways in terms of the referee?s performances. The one thing that impressed me was the fact that not only were the penalty counts down, but the penalties that were blown, helped enable a good flow for the games. Now whilst I advocate a game with few penalties, I do not under any circumstances like a referee who deliberately keeps the whistle in the pocket, just so he can be seen to be a decent ref. Case in point a few weeks ago, Shayne Hayne officiated the Warriors v Brisbane game in Auckland. He blew for only two penalties the whole game and those were for kicks that went out on the full. That wasn?t a good game to watch as it became too predictable and it gives the wrong message. Yes, play the advantage, but remember, if you play it too long, you can?t go back for the infringement.Some things are still eating away at me in terms of Rugby League purity. Players are playing tunnel ball at the play the ball and not getting pinged for it and others are constantly in front of the kicker at the line drop out and are allowed to get away with it.Steve Clark came under criticism after the Parramatta v Manly clash, but this was probably one of his better games. Technically speaking he was good and I applaud him for showing gumption for sending Fuifui Moimoi off. As a referee myself, I don?t have the benefit of the video ref and cameras whenever I don the liquorice jersey, but if that was me with the whistle, I would have punted Moimoi 10 times out of 10.Performances:Shayne Hayne: Cronulla v NewcastleSome baffling decisions soured this for me, in what was a decent game which ebbed and flowed for both teams and kept the supporter in his seat and nibbling on his fist. A ?knock on? in the second minute was ruled after the player lost the ball. For me, watching it, it seemed like it was helped out and there was still momentum. The George Carmont try for me was more benefit of the doubt, but Hayne was right on the spot, he had a perfect view and yet still went to the video ref. He probably could have awarded it then or ruled a knock on without going upstairs.Overall I would say he put in an ok performance but the jury is still out for me in terms of his ability to referee first grade.Tony Archer: Penrith v New Zealand?Starch shirt? has a decent set of pipes on him. I was really impressed that with the noise in the stadium I could hear him bellowing at the players and giving instructions. His signals picked up, which is a good sign considering his whistle really annoys me. He eliminated in a sense, the ambiguity in his game. His whistle doesn?t change no matter what the situation. A penalty, a knock on, and a try have all got three different tones but Archer doesn?t deviate too much in a sense of his technique.Overall I would say this was a good game all round from Archer. Correct calls, good positioning and a confident manner. He is a first grade referee but I would like that whistle seen to. Steve Clark: Parramatta v ManlyThis was the most fiery of contests this round. Clark?s experience came to the fore. It could have degenerated to the point where it may have been untenable but his control of the game was excellent. Constantly being questioned by Kennedy, he showed that he was always in control and never lost the plot. His fitness is still a bit questionable, but he did what he had to ? be in the right position at the right time. His whistle, communication and signals were all right on the mark. As I stated previously, he showed a lot of grit when he sent Moi Moi off for an early shower in what was his first send off since Shane Rigon in 2000. Overall, I give him top marks for this game. His control kept the game on track when it could have gone down the toilet and thus a good spectacle ensued.Jason Robinson: Souths v CanberraI was a supporter of this bloke when he came into grade. Earlier on in the season, he lost me with a few well below average performances. He has turned it around in the last few weeks and this game was no different. This was a game I was glad I watched. It was a great effort all round. His positioning was good, his whistle is extremely strong and his signals were clear and concise. I am still a little worried about his voice being able to get over a big crowd. This game wasn?t watched by many, but as an assessor, I would want him to be booming across the television.Overall, he has a good all round game. Clear signals, good whistle, good control and had the respect of the players. In my opinion, this performance will move him up the pecking order.Paul Simpkins: Brisbane v Wests TigersA good game which was supposed to be a ?no-brainer? in terms of picking the result. Simpkins as usual was clear with his signals and his whistle was strong as always.However, that?s where my good points about his performance end. Leaving aside my allegiances, I found him to be overly critical in the tackle area. Too many penalties for players around the neck, where in my view, playing the advantage would have been the way to go. He failed to pick up a forward pass which led to a Tigers try in the second half. Whilst the referee looks for his linemen to give him an indication, the buck stops with the referee as he is the one to pull up the pass if he deems so.Overall I would say Simpkins was the dunce of this round. He blew unnecessary penalties and was overly officious in certain areas of the match. Definitely needs to improve for next week.Sean Hamsptead: St George-Illawarra v MelbourneI rank this bloke as the best referee in the game at the moment. However, with being number one, you need to keep performing at your best. I haven?t seen that from him recently and I think if he wants to remain number one, he needs to lift his game. This was a decent effort with two of the competition?s big gun teams in a pressure cooker atmosphere. He had good authority, good signals, his communication was good and he had relatively good control. He still isn?t at his best but if he picks up where he left off from this game, he?ll be back to his best.Overall, I deem this to be a slightly above average performance. For a man with his experience in the game, who has refereed Origin and Test matches, he?ll be wanting to make sure that once Grand Final day arrives, he will be the one that gets given the nod. Improvement is needed for his standards if that is to happen.Gavin Badger: Sydney v North QueenslandThis wasn?t the most attractive game but that wasn?t because of Badger. He is an up and coming referee who shows a lot of charisma and his technique is very good. Made some very good calls in this game but I think his positioning is still a bit off. His whistle, signals and communication were pretty good and if I was Robert Finch, I would persist with Badger because he shows a lot of promise.Overall, a decent effort from Badger. Good calls, good whistle and good communication with the players shows he has what it takes. His positioning must be the first thing to work on come training. If he works on that, he will have all the tools to go further.
THE hardest thing to being a referee is not the ability to possess a thick skin. It isn?t the fitness levels which have to be of a premium standard nowadays. It is actually the ability to be consistent. Now every referee tries to lay the law down equally to all teams and to all situations. In a perfect world, that is what we would want to happen. However, with a litany of camera?s and a ready pool of journalists and players to pound some criticism if the referee doesn?t get it right, it makes the referee?s job a lot harder.