Project Apollo to propose return to one referee

The NRL looks set to return with just the one referee.Credit:AAP

While one referee will save the NRL cash, McCallum said the $2m controversial bunker should stay, and video technology was now an integral part of competitions around the globe.

“You just need to keep fine-tuning it,” McCallum said.

Members of Project Apollo were unable to finalise a draw as negotiations between the NRL and TV broadcasters continue to drag. Acting NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo had to skip the Project Apollo meeting as he continued to meet with the networks.

The committee’s chief Wayne Pearce was hopeful there would be more clarity around the draw next week. Coaches hope to know sooner than later so they can start preparing accordingly.


Pearce said apart from deciding one referee being the best and most cost-effective option moving forward – the proposal still needs to be rubber-stamped by the ARL Commission, likely at the end of next week – there is also a push to clamp down on the wrestle by re-starting tackle counts rather than penalising teams who try to slow the ruck.

Souths coach Wayne Bennett and Sydney Roosters counterpart Trent Robinson sit on Project Apollo and both supported the rule change.

“The big thing is not necessarily going back to one ref, but more the point of policing the wrestle around the play-the-ball, and what we’re looking at is going back to zero tackles if there is an infringement rather than penalise teams,” Pearce said.

“The game can become too stop-start [with penalties]. It was trialled during an All Stars game a few years ago and it went well back then.

“When you think about the advantage teams have with the 20m re-start and the seven-tackle sets, it’s expanding that concept with the play-the-ball. If there is an infringement on the fourth tackle, you start again and there are no stoppages.”

One awful look that had crept into the game was teams camped on their tryline who would deliberately slow the ruck in the hope they would be penalised and get the chance to re-set their defence.

“If players play by the rules and coaches coach to the rules, it won’t affect you,” Pearce said.

The proposal will be fine-tuned before it is taken to the ARLC and then implemented in time for the May 28 relaunch.

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