Officiating in rugby league and specifically Super League has been a hot topic throughout the 2023 season with the RFL taking a firm stance and fining the likes of Wakefield Trinity’s Luke Gale, Leeds Rhinos’ Sam Lisone and head coaches Ian Watson and Paul Rowley.
Understandably for players, coaches and fans, emotions run high during and after games which can at time lead to heat of the moment opinions that encroach upon the line of being taken too far.
In the cases of both Gale and Lisone they were hit with fines for criticism on social media, whereas both coaches were fined for comments following their teams’ clashes with St Helens.
The comments in question were all deemed “breaches of the Operational Rules relating to criticism of match officials.”
Many fans questioned the decisions in the round 27 game between Wigan Warriors and Leigh Leopards when Oliver Gildart’s try was disallowed controversially, however the biggest refereeing blunder in sport of late has come in football’s Premier League and that has seen contrasts drawn to rugby league by a former official.
In the recent Premier League game between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur the Video Assistant Referee came in for major criticism when they incorrectly ruled out a valid goal, with audio of the event having since been released as part of the investigation.
Former Super League official Richard Silverwood took to X, formerly Twitter, to express his disbelief at the incident whilst also highlighting a Super League error.
In reaction to the audio, he posted: “Wow. Things like that should not happen. On field mistakes will always happen but looking at something clear on a monitor you can’t get it wrong. Like tracking the wrong man in Hull v Hull KR magic game. It just destroys all creditability and faith.”
He then offered an alternative approach comparable to how rugby league works on a one person basis as the released audio highlighted multiple people involved in the decision, which ultimately fuelled confusion.
“For me, there is too much noise and voices. It should be Referee leading a on field review. Take some examples from RL, Referee calls time off and says to VAR “Linesman has called offside can you please check that is correct” The on field noise isn’t clear to VAR in my opinion,” he posted on X.
From next season it’s reported that all Super League games will have a video referee with each and every game set to be broadcast, however it will likely require an influx of officials to perform the role.