Ex-Super League referee James Child on dealing with difficult players on a rugby league field

BEING a referee is no easy job, but being a Super League official is an entirely different level of scrutiny.

As well as being held accountable by the governing body through video review and analysis, referees have to deal with challenges on the field as well as in the stands.

In terms of those challenges on the field, captains can approach officials if they do so in a respectable manner and have an open conversation about decisions.

For retired Super League referee, James Child, there are two categories that players fall into – and one category is almost certainly easier to deal with than the other.

On dealing with different approaches by players, Child told League Express: “Players who challenge referees often fit into two categories.

“The easy ones to do deal with are those coming effing and jeffing and behaving in an inappropriate manner as you can sanction that with a penalty or a card in some cases.

“In some ways the more challenging ones ones are those that come towards you in an appropriate manner because you can’t dismiss them with a penalty.”

It is that area which Child feels is difficult because though open dialogue is sometimes necessary, officials have to be determined not to allow players effectively ‘ref’ the game.

“It is important for referees and players to have constructive open dialogue, but a balance has to be struck between that and maintaining flow to the game.

“Referees are aware that sometimes the captain may be only wanting to speak in order to slow down the game to suit their own game plan.

“Also, no one wants it to appear as though players are trying to ref the game.”

For Child, he hangs up his whistle after 333 Super League games, epitomising his incredible commitment to the sport of rugby league.