2 days ago
The appointment of Bill Harrigan as Referees Director comes as no surprise. Many will argue it just formalises and existing arrangement!
His new offsider, Stuart Raper, is a more interesting appointment...it remains to be seen how well they can work together given Bill's obvious belief in his own ability.
Both face significant challenges. The standard of referees has been, at best, stagnant. That of the sideline officials (otherwise and rightly known as touch judges) almost defies description. And inconsistency remains a problem with video referees.
In his first press conference yesterday, Harrigan said he would urge referees to be more decisive and not rely on the video referee as much as they have been doing.
Hear! Hear! to that.
The video referee ranks are thin enough as it is, but one assumes Harrigan now goes into retirement from that role, which makes the supply even thinner. Despite well reported glaring errors here and there Harrigan was a very good video referee.
The biggest change we are likely to see is that referees will allow the game to flow even better. There will be fewer penalties - perhaps the main leftover from the Harrigan era when Bill dominated the refereeing ranks.
What Bill Harrigan needs to focus on is recruiting more referees who can be quickly advanced to the Premiership and the Toyota Cup. The reality is that we don't have 16 referees who are up to Premiership standard fullstop.
Some of those who have been rushed through have spilt their lollies (or their whistle) at the first hurdle!
Apart from recruitment, the great need is consistency.
When Harrigan was at his best, he was consistent. You might not have liked his style, or his prominence, but he was competent and consistent.
There is no doubt that a lack of consistency frustrates coaches, players and fans alike.
If Bill, and his new sidekick, can deliver that, we will have a better game.