The ARLC chairman revealed one high profile coach actually believes the rule change will act as a deterrent to cynical play and actually increase ruck speed, contrary to the argument that one referee will see wrestling run riot and the game slow down.
“I spoke to a high profile coach yesterday – and I spoke to a few coaches – and asked him this question,” V’landys said.
“If you’re the defending team and you slow down the ruck and you wrestle and the attacking team gets six again and you do it again and they get six again, what do you tell your players?
“He said I’ll tell them to stop doing it.
“The whole thing is to act as a deterrent. That’s important, what that coach said. Because he was honest. He said the opposite to what everyone is saying. He said it will probably speed things up.”
Many coaches, including Roosters coach Trent Robinson, voiced a belief that the NRL should stick to two referees. But V’landys said he did not expect coaches to be on board with the decision.
“The coaches – with due respect to them – and I admire them greatly, they have to get an edge for their team. That’s what they are there for. But they can’t get an edge manipulating the rules,” he said.
“Naturally, if we changed it to stop them manipulating – they’re not going to be for it. They have trained and coached in their mind how they are going to do it for this year. That’s not in the spirit.
“The thing is, there are going to be times when the coaches and I don’t agree. My job as an administrator is to deliver an even playing field. Their job is to get an edge. That’s fine and I admire them for trying to get that edge. That’s what they’re good at. That’s what their fans expect.”
The decision to revert to one referee and replace part time touch judges with full time officials has saved the game anywhere between $500,000 and $3.5 million, according to various reports over the last 72 hours.
V’landys explained why the number was closer to the latter than the former.
“The casuals are costing us more,” V’landys said.
“We have to pay them to train, we have to pay them to get physio – there are all these additional costs.
“We have to fly them to games, we have to accommodate them. Those costs add up.
“That’s what I think people don’t understand. It’s not just the cost of the wages. It’s the cost of all the ancillary things that go with it.”
V’landys also slammed a part time touch judge who has taken to Twitter in the last 24 hours and claimed an “experienced” touch judge would never have made the howler decision which knocked the Panthers out of the NRL Nines earlier this year.
“You’re basically saying you take a top ref and put him on the sideline – as an example – and he wouldn’t be a very competent touch judge? That borders on the ridiculous. It does,” V’landys said.
“If you’re going to make an argument, make an argument that has some merit.
“To say that a top-line referee wouldn’t make a top touch judge is like saying a good artist doesn’t make a good painter.”
V’landys also took aim at the media for listening to coaches ahead of the fans.
“The problem with the media – and I’m going to have a crack at them here – is that they listen to the person with the loudest voice. They listen to the coaches,” V’landys said.
“But who listens to the fans? The thing is, the fan pays the wages of all of us. They pay the wages of the coaches, the players, everyone. But all we do is listen to the coaches.
“I go around and talk to the fans and listen to them because if you don’t look after your customer, you do it at your peril. That’s one of the things kept hammering in my head. Your ratings – how are you going to guarantee your ratings? By listening to your fans.”
Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.