Off the Wall

Since taking control of the game earlier this year, the ARLC has put in a very mixed performance when it comes to addressing the key challenges facing the game.

It has delivered a new TV deal, and it has addressed some of the worst examples of foul play more robustly than its predecessor did.

But it has not addressed what is one of the greatest challenges of all - the standard of referees, touch judges and video referees.

In the first weekend of the finals were saw example after example of decisions that were so bad they were inexcusable.

And did they impact on the outcome of a couple of finals?

Regardless of the final margin, a couple of bad calls did - because they came at critical periods.

We should be grateful for small mercies - this weekend there are half the number of matches, so we need half the number of officials!

So perhaps the total numbers of "howlers" will be cut by 50 per cent??

What needs to happen as soon as we get past the grand final is simple.

One, we need to get back to one referee controlling each match.We don't have eight good referees, let alone sixteen!

Then the ARLC needs to review the role of the video referee - and especially the referrals system.

It is just not working.

Rugby league is not the only sport having trouble with officials. I watch the occasional Wallabies match - and while our referees get it wrong too often they are fortunately not as pedantic, not by a long way, as union referees are.

But that is not an excuse for doing nothing.

The ARLC needs to take a comprehensive look at the whole process - from recruitment to training to selection and performance assessment.

Our game will soon end another season in fairly good shape.

But this is one area where we have arguably gone backwards - and that is just not good enough!