NRL to referees: Send them off, via Dean Ritchie.
NRL to referees: Send them off, via Dean Ritchie.

Send them off: NRL’s edict to soft referees

There have been some ugly incidents to hit the NRL in recent weeks - and now referees have been told in no uncertain terms that the send off isn't dead. 

South Sydney forward George Burgess was suspended for nine matches for eye gouging Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah last week in an incident NRL head of football Graham Annesley said warranted a send-off.

While Annesley denied the send-off option was dead in rugby league, he admitted referees "didn't take strong enough action in a number of cases" last weekend.

"They shouldn't shirk that responsibility," Annesley said of the send-off.

Robbie Farah (9) has his eye gouged by South Sydney prop George Burgess. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Robbie Farah (9) has his eye gouged by South Sydney prop George Burgess. Picture. Phil Hillyard

"I have made it very clear to the referees' coaching staff and the bunker that when they have sufficient evidence then they need to take appropriate action.

"They have a responsibility to look at what evidence they have and make a call on whether someone goes on report, is sent to the sin bin or is dismissed from the field permanently.

"When you get serious allegations like gouging or biting then referees still have a responsibility to take the appropriate action, which, in some cases, is dismissal from the field."

 

NRL SEND-OFFS

SEASONROUNDSENT OFFOPONENT
201811Curtis Scott (Storm)Sea Eagles
201522David Shillington (Raiders)Tigers
201324Kade Snowden (Knights)Cowboys
20139Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters)Sea Eagles
201224Anthony Minichiello (Roosters)Raiders
201220Travis Burns (Panthers)Roosters
20129Matt Prior (Dragons)Cowboys
201125Glenn Stewart (Sea Eagles)Storm
201125Adam Blair (Storm)Sea Eagles
20111Paul Aiton (Sharks)Raiders
201025Petero Civoniceva (Panthers)Bulldogs

 

Annesley said modern-day referees found it less controversial to place players on report rather than dismiss them.

"We have seen a situation over a fairly long period of time where players have largely been placed on report for incidents that have tended to be, in some cases, at the lower end of the scale," he said.

"I wouldn't say (placing players on report) was a soft option because there are incidents in games that warrant going on report but it's not an option for every case.

"When they do (referees and video referees) have time and clear enough vision to make a call to either sin bin or send them off, they have a responsibility to do that.

 

NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley. Picture: Toby Zerna
NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley. Picture: Toby Zerna

"I have made it very clear that we didn't take strong enough action in a number of cases across last weekend, whether they are sin bins or dismissal, they are judgment calls that have to be made based on the evidence.

"Where there is clear evidence of alleged foul play, then I think they should be in the position to advise the referees they consider strong action. There were certainly instances where one of both of those options should have been taken."

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None of the match officials from Souths' game against the Tigers were relegated for weekend's round.

"No one was dropped. Regardless of what happens in any one round of football, or any one game of football, we've still got a responsibility to try and put our best people into games each week," Annesley said.

"The fact that a mistake has been made or a misjudgment has been carried out doesn't necessarily mean that someone is then unfit to continue officiating in the NRL. Sometimes they will make mistakes."

South Sydney prop George Burgess faced the music and copped a nine-week ban for his actions. Picture: Jonathan Ng
South Sydney prop George Burgess faced the music and copped a nine-week ban for his actions. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Annesley stressed the send-off rule should still be a robust option for referees.

"The send-off has never been dead. Referees have always had the option to put players in the sin bin or send them off based on the circumstances. Sending someone off is a big call and they have to be certain that the action on the field warrants it," Annesley said.

"The referees and video referees have a number of courses of action they can take - they can dismiss them entirely, sin bin or place on report - and we need to make sure they get more of those decision as right as possible.''