By STEVE MASCORD
ONE of the last things Bill Harrigan said as co-boss of the NRL referees was that the benefit of the doubt rule had to go. Since then, Bill, Stuart Raper, Tony De Las Heras, Steve Lyons and – I believe – two other yet-to-be-identified match officials have been punted.
Harrigan’s comments have been largely forgotten. But you know what? He was right.
The benefit of the doubt rule was responsible for some of the biggest clangers of the year, even if it was wrongly applied. The Keiran Foran incident should have been the final nail in its coffin.
Basically, the rule says: “If there is two per cent chance that was a try, it’s a try”. No wonder video referees, in particular, were repeatedly perplexed by it.
The NRL, to the best of my knowledge, is the only rugby league competition in the world with benefit of the doubt. In fact, commonsense indicates that the decision should be based on balance of probability.
Was it MOST LIKELY a try? Then it is.
Take out the mistakes surrounding benefit of the doubt, and maybe the match officials have a decent year and seven blokes still have their jobs.
NO sooner had the last Discord appeared than I walked in on almost irrefutable evidence that the ARL Commission does, indeed, care about international football.
Before Darren Lockyer retired, he mused that he would like to be some kind of NRL ambassador to international football.
Well, as it turns out, that is exactly when he has become.
The former Australia captain and an NRL staffer were in London and the north of England at the expense of the commission to
help promote the World Cup.
Discord understands that among the ideas discussed was giving individual countries ‘clubhouses’ at the tournament, where
visiting fans and expats can gather and support can ferment. It’s a concept that has worked well in rugby union.
Appointing NRL coaches to help developing nations in the lead-up to the 14-team tournament is also a consideration. The commission is keen to support the World Cup and help make it a success, evidently.
I guess rather than apathy – which is clearly not a problem – the challenge for the ARLC is to look at international
football from a perspective that isn’t too Australian.
Rugby league remains a regional sport in the UK and busting out of those boundaries as the next major sporting event after the Olympics is the big challenge for RLWC 13.
Lockyer may have been mobbed at functions in the north but only one journalist showed up in person for Tuesday’s media
opportunity in London – and he was there to interview Jamie Peacock, who he admitted was the first rugby league player he
had ever dealt with.
The rest of the interviews were conducted over the phone with members of the league media who all live and work in the
I DIDN’T leave you long to provide feedback since the last column – sorry about that.
By STEVE MASCORD