Super League will seriously consider the possibility of introducing the two referee system, as seen in the NRL ,as early as the 2020 campaign.
The competition will unveil its rule changes for the 2019 campaign on New Year’s Day, as reported in this past Monday’s edition of League Express. Changes that will include the introduction of a golden point and the reduction of interchanges from ten to eight.
However, TotalRL understands that there has also been serious discussion among the game’s elite, about bringing in a second referee for all top-flight games from the start of the 2020 season.
The major reasoning behind that move, it is believed, boils down to improving the speed of the game, something high on the list for competition Chief Executive, Robert Elstone moving in 2019 (his first full year in charge0 in his aim to revolutionise the game’s image.
Easing pressure on officials, in-game, is also understood to be a key factor behind the discussions, which, at one stage, did consider the possibility of changes being introduced as early as the 2019 season, which begins at the end of January.
However, TotalRL has learned that after consultation with the RFL, and its match officials department, all parties agreed that such an important move must not be rushed through without due consideration and thought, with the goal now being to introduce the move for the 2020 season.
It is not the first time British rugby league has flirted with the dual-ref system, which has been in operation in the NRL for a decade. In 2014, experiments were undertaken at Academy level to trial the two referee system.
At the time, Ben Thaler, who officiated in one of those games, told League Express: “I have refereed for 20 years and this is a whole new experience.”
Plans were never fully rolled out though, following the trials in 2014, but it now looks as though they are finally set to be approved for the season after next, as Super League continues in its quest to improve the flow and speed of the game, at the highest level.