Few went as hard as Roosters chairman Nick Politis, who told me the rules proposed by V’landys (which also included a new set of six tackles for ruck infringements) would change the fabric of the game. Ignoring those powerbrokers would usually be a death sentence for an administrator in the brutal rugby league community. But V’landys has built up so much goodwill by taking the NRL to the brink of a return to the field that he can take risks. He is an innovator and joined the commission to make change, not to go along with the status quo.
Before he became chairman, he forced his way onto the Competition Committee – even though there was no spot for him – where he suggested several left-field ideas that went nowhere. Now V’landys not only has the power to ignore everyone else and implement change, but do so without fear of being sacked.
And V’landys has no doubt taken a calculated risk, knowing that even if the one-referee experiment fails there won’t be a lot of blowback. It was apparent during round two that the absence of crowds camouflages refereeing errors. Without fans screaming they were robbed, the referees are under less scrutiny and mistakes are forgotten more easily.
V’landys has also given himself the safety net of declaring the game will go back to two referees in 2021 if it doesn’t work. And then he will try something else. The only certainty is there will be more changes under his leadership.