“The referees love the game, they get in there and do a great job but outside that, that’s where it had to stop. For them to be protesting and going to hold the game up … well get a whole heap of other referees.”
The referees’ union has claimed their agreement with the NRL is based on a two-referee, two-touch-judge model. It also claims the NRL did not properly consult them before making the change back to one referee.
In the 21-page enterprise agreement sighted by AAP, there is no written mention of the need to stay with two referees. It does state referees must be consulted on the introduction of major changes, but that consultation can take place after making a definite decision.
The document is signed by the NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley and PRLMO chair Silvio Del Vecchio.
The two-referee model was introduced by the NRL at the end of 2008 in a bid to eliminate the wrestle and keep up with the pace of the game. However the NRL has argued the system has not worked to eradicate wrestling issues.
Of the current crop of NRL referees, just three officiated in the NRL prior to 2009 when the system was brought in.
Most of the top officials have controlled international games, with still operate with just one whistleblower, while reserve grade also uses the one- referee model.
“You’ve got to remember before coming to the NRL they were in a system where it was one referee,” Fittler said. “So their whole trade was learned with one referee, learning the flow of the game through refereeing kids through A-grade. It’s just ridiculous (for referees) to hold up the game.”