Ex-Super League official explains why video referees may not be present at every game in the near future

THERE is a current question which continues: should there be video referees at every Super League game?

Proponents of this argument point to the fact that the NRL has a video official at every game which brings along with it the ‘captain’s challenge’ rule.

That rule allows captains of both sides to challenge a decision made by the referee if they feel the latter has made a mistake.

But, now the debate is raging in Super League whether our sport needs a video official at every game for fairness and transparency.

For former Super League referee Ian Smith – who officiated in Super League between 1999 and 2010 for a career span that saw him officiate almost 300 top flight games before turning to video refereeing solely – the video referee needs to stay though he doesn’t know if every top flight game will have one due to cost and recruitment issues.

“We definitely shouldn’t scrap it,” Smith told League Express. “I think the video referee adds so much to the game. Also we can’t bring in captains challenge without a video referee at every game

“Hopefully there will be video referees at all games in the not too distant future but who knows when.

“Yes, video referees at every game will make the whole competition consistent just like it is in the NRL.

“Secondly though, it is a very expensive project and one I don’t think the RFL can afford to fund without direct and ring-fenced sponsorship.

“Lastly, even if they do get the funding to have a video referee at every game they will need to recruit and train more of them as it’s not as easy as people think and the current squad of match officials already double up every week doing different roles on match days as referees, video officials, reserve referees and touch judges.”

Smith is also keen to see the debate about refereeing decisions continue – but in a respectful manner.

“The conversation around referees will never change due to the nature of how many judgements a referee will make during 80 minutes.

“I really enjoy a good and healthy debate around refereeing/video refereeing decisions. There is no reason why the debate can’t be respectful on both sides of the debate and definitely be without verbal abuse.”