RFL introduce 200 ref-cams from Super League down to NCL in bid to stop referee abuse

The RFL have confirmed that for the 2023 campaign there will be eight full-time ‘elite’ officials and this list makes up those who we will see weekly in Super League.

Whilst the list certainly has some familiar and established names it’s lacking one one major one who was on the 2022 list and that’s James Child.

Child retired after the World Cup, making the announcement just before Christmas, and he’ll be a huge loss to the game but he’s not the only high profile departure of late, something that one former referee labelled as being Steve Ganson’s fault.

Regardless of that the RFL are aware of their problem and they’ve cited it as retainment of officials, not recruitment, which is something that outlined at a recent RFL briefing.

It was actually highlighted that the recruitment of officials is growing and isn’t an issue with 366 new officials joining the game in 2022, but current full-time referee Liam Moore spoke about how retaining officials was the current focus.

“We have no problem recruiting referees, the issue is retaining them. One of the biggest factors in losing referees, even experienced ones, is being abused on the touchline or by a coach or player. Once they leave, they’re lost to the game and we are back to square one,” Moore outlined.

Despite that damning statement that referees often fall out of love with the game and as a result out of the sport due to abuse, he did highlight the way the RFL will combat this and it’s the introduction of 200 ref-cams.

The ref-cams will be worn by match officials across the lower levels and will be in effect a high-quality Go-Pro style camera that records audio and visuals, as previously seen in Super League seasons.

It’s something that had been trialled across the National Conference League in 2022 and the success of the scheme triggered a larger roll-out, something that will hopefully support referees in their development.

“We’re pleased to report that not only did the camera act as a deterrent for players not to abuse the referee, we saw abuse cases from the touchline across the NCL lower last year. It has been a fantastic first pilot scheme.

“It’s a really positive way of introducing referees and it’s another tool we have in place. As well as being used for disciplinary purposes, the development we can give to referees by being able to hear what they’re saying and how they’re managing players is something we’ve simply never had before in the community game.”

It won’t be long until we get to see these ref cams in action though as Moore revealed that every referee will wear one during the First Round of the Challenge Cup, which is set to kick off this upcoming weekend of February 11th and 12th.

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