Today the New South Wales Rugby League released the season draws for 6 of its premier competitions, ...
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It appears that after another NRL season of consistent inconsistency from the bulk of the refereeing ranks, the NRL may be about to trial a new way to find that elusive quality week in week out. League Unlimited has learned that the NRL is moving on an idea to have a regular season game officiated by a pair of referees using an interchange format. While information at this stage is sketchy, the likely game will feature a pair of teams out of finals contention, so no contending team could point to ?inconsistency? costing them a lucrative playoff birth. Games that fit the profile from Round 25 include South Sydney vs. Cronulla and the Wests Tigers against North Queensland. With all four teams mathematically eliminated from mid-September action, it gives the NRL the opportunity to trial their less experienced referees under an interchange format. Not surprisingly, the most consistent referees this year are indeed the only three fulltime referees employed by the NRL. Bill Harrigan, Steve Clark, and Tim Mander are clearly a cut above their part-time counterparts and the NRL may use this experiment to possibly pair off the part-timers for the coming seasons. Even if this experiment is indeed a one off, you have to give the NRL marks for trying something to get consistency back into rugby league.
Note: I do not expect this to eventuate, as I doubt even the clubs outside Top 8 contention would be willing to let their final table position be influenced by two individuals rather than the traditional one. Sponsorships and season ticket renewal may indeed rest on each clubs final placing, so taking this risk could cost each club significant dollars.