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Video easy: better calls to come as refs get more clout

Denied … the video official disallows a try. From next season, the on-field referees will make the first calls on four-pointers.

Denied … the video official disallows a try. From next season, the on-field referees will make the first calls on four-pointers. Photo: Simone De Peak

REFEREES boss Daniel Anderson believes the dilution of the video officials' powers will not only lead to better decision-making over tries but also better referees.

After the ARL Commission's decision on Tuesday to scrap the benefit-of-the-doubt rule, as well as hand the onus back to the on-field referee to make a decision before the video official is consulted, Anderson - on the committee that recommended the changes - said he believed the referees would improve their performances overall as a result.

''It's part of the thinking, that the flow-on over the course of a game is that the rest of their refereeing will become a bit more confident,'' he said.

Anderson, a former NRL coach, said the referees supported the move to hand a significant part of the decision-making back to them, although he admitted the move would also put more pressure on them.

''There are 21 full-time referees currently,'' Anderson said. ''These guys are immersed in rugby league for 38 or 40 hours a week and more. They're the key decision-makers in this environment. So I'd like to think they're going to be the best decision-makers in the refereeing department, rather than the people that are not full-time.

''I do think referees have an instinct for a decision more often than not … Being in such close proximity to the action … they may need assistance from a video referee, if it is off the ball or heavily contested, but they can feel confidence to make a decision.''

From next season, referees will be called on to make an on-field call in relation to any try-scoring situation, and will refer the decision to the video official - if they have reservations about the call - only after doing so, by calling a time out. The video referee may overrule a decision only if there is ''sufficient evidence'' to do so.

''It's about enhancing and encouraging responsibility … we just have technology as a method of reviewing and assisting in some circumstances,'' Anderson said.

The former Warriors and Parramatta coach said the benefit-of-the-doubt rule as it stood this year, that the video referee had to be absolutely sure a try had not been scored to disallow it, clearly needed either altering or scrapping.

''It had reached a point where, if you could not conclusively disallow it, a try was given,'' Anderson said. ''I don't know if they wanted it to get that far, but it appeared to get a long way from where it was initially planned.''

Anderson said the rules committee had looked to the NFL, as well as cricket, to make their changes to the video referral system.

Interim NRL chief executive Shane Mattiske said he believed the changes would be received ''positively received by fans''.

Elsewhere, supporters across the globe will be able to get their NRL television fix over the next five years after the international rights deal was finalised yesterday.

The NRL has signed off on a multimillion-dollar agreement with IMG Media, which will ensure overseas fans have access to all premiership matches, as well as to Tests and State of Origin fixtures.

The rights deal guarantees television coverage in Britain, US, Asia and the Pacific.

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