What can football learn from rugby? *
I watched the second half of the England/Wales rugby match on Saturday and apart from wondering at the Welsh comeback and the high attrition rate in terms of injury, I was mainly struck by the marked difference in officiating.
This weekend we have again seen some really poor decisions being made by football referees and linemen at the highest level. How Carl Walker was not deemed offside in the attack that led to Sp*rs’ first goal or Kane not ruled off for his beggars belief. Even De Bruyne’s opener for Citeh was questionable.
By contrast when Wales turned over the ball in the last quarter of the game at Twickenham and Gareth Davies carried the ball over the line to score a try, the ref immediately called for TV confirmation that it had not been a forward pass. In seconds we had the verdict and the try stood.
Earlier I noted two incidents where the ball went dead and the clock was stopped. No need here for arbitrary ‘stoppage time’ at the end of the game, they simply stopped the clock until play restarted. No need for referee discretion, and an obvious way to prevent teams from timewasting.
There were also a couple of occasions when the referee audibly (because he was miked up) explained his decision making to the captains. Not only that but we could hear Chris Robshaw’s acceptance of the decision. By setting out clearly the reason behind the award of penalty or whatever, the referee let the team and the audience know what was going on. By doing it publically he also acted transparently, and so was accountable for his actions.
I think football could take all these points and apply them to the round ball game. If the referee at WHL had listened to Caballero’s complain that Walker was offside a quick look at the video would have confirmed it – goal chalked off, still 0-1. It would not have caused much delay either.
If the same video technology had been applied to the Gabriel/Costa incident the right decision would have been made and Chavski would have played on with 10 men, not us. Mike Dean would have had to explain what he was doing and demonstrated that he had not seen (or had) seen the supposed kick from the Brazilian.
Rugby refs (at international level) are drawn from the elite officials and only the best are selected for by the World Rugby International Referees Panel. The AVIVA Premiership refs are appointed by the RFU’s Professional Referee Unit (PRU) which would appear to be the equivalent of the PGMO in football. As their site notes
‘The PRU consists of 15 referees and 13 assistant referee and represents the cream of English officials. For each match, four officials (1 referee, 2 assistant referees and a reserve official) are selected by the PRU management team of Ed Morrison, Brian Campsall and Tony Spreadbury. They are joined by a timekeeper and for televised matches a Television Match Official.’
They appear to be a lot more transparent than their football equivalent and while they do make mistakes, this seems to be much less contentious than it does in football. More importantly perhaps rugby seems to have recognized the limitations of the official and have taken certain responsibilities away (time-keeping) or added technology to aid their decision-making.
Whatever you might think of their decisions at times it is hard to point the finger at Rugby officials as being secretive, incompetent or corrupt. It works for rugby and it could easily work for football: a failure to implement real change in how football officials operate suggests to me at least that either: a) the FA and PL are happy to have games decided on the lottery of an incompetent ref’s decision-making or b) an acceptance that there are elements of the modern game where opportunities for corruption are rife, and this is ok.
Mike the refs, make them accountable, introduce separate timekeepers and allow video technology to assist referee’s in making the correct decision.
This is 2015 after all.
*Walter, Rugby is a curious English invention derived from Football that involves men chasing an egg-shaped ball and sticking their heads up each other’s bottoms; I’m sure the more civilized Belgians would eschew such barbarity.
A day of record breaking anniversaries
28 September 2002: Arsenal 4 Leeds 1. Arsenal beat Nottm F’s record of 22 away games without defeat. Arsenal also beat Chesterfield’s 72 year old record of scoring in 47 consecutive league games set between December 1929 and December 1930 in the Third Division north. Arsenal player Jack Lee, who was transferred to Chesterfield in 1928, was very much part of Chesterfield’s run at that time.
28 September 2013: Arsenal made it a record breaking 12 consecutive away wins beating Swansea 2-1, as they also equal all time record of 8 consecutive away PL wins, set by Arsenal on 11 May 2002.