Referees boss Ganson wants officials to be accountable

New referees boss Steve Ganson
New referees boss Steve Ganson
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NEW referees boss Steve Ganson has outlined plans to make officials more accountable for their performances in 2016.

The former top-level referee, who has been promoted to head of match officials at the Rugby Football League, is also confident of speeding up video referee decisions by reverting to one official.

Appointments will be very much based on performances - just like players, referees have got to perform to be in the starting line-up

Steve Ganson

The league trialled a new system in 2015 in which the on-field referee made a call on a possible try before passing the final decision on to two video officials.

That effectively meant the decision came down to a majority vote which Ganson believes was wrong.

“I wasn’t totally happy with everything about it last year, hence we’ve gone back to one video referee,” Ganson said at the launch of the 2016 First Utility Super League in Manchester.

“Decisions shouldn’t be based on a majority vote, it’s not like phone a friend, they should be based on whether it’s right or wrong.

“I think having one video referee will increase speedy decisions. He will have to have sufficient evidence to overturn the live call.

“The live call is still up for some debate, it’s fairly new so we’ll assess it again for another year and look at ways we can improve it.”

Ganson has promoted two referees from the Championship, George Stokes and Sam Ansell, to increase the size of the Super League panel to nine full-time officials and expects the extra competition to bring the best out of them.

“That’s the first time we’ve had nine referees for six games so we’re going to have a bit of room for manoeuvre,” he said.

“Appointments will be very much based on performances - just like players, referees have got to perform to be in the starting line-up and the ones that don’t perform will have to work their way back in.

“It’s a deliberate shift of emphasis. We need the referees not to feel so comfortable that they’re guaranteed a spot every week.

“Their performances will be under scrutiny and I expect high standards.”

Ganson says the system of two referees, which is used in the NRL, remains up for debate but hinted it remains unlikely to be brought into Super League.

“We’ll never discount anything but in Australia the two-referee system is not perfect and senior players like Cameron Smith in the Test matches have actually come out and said they prefer the one-referee system,” he said.

Defending champions Leeds will kick off the 2016 season against Warrington next Thursday with memories of their dramatic triumphs in 2015 still fresh in the mind and Super League general manager Blake Solly is predicting another tense campaign.

The Rhinos helped deliver on the league’s pledge to “make every minute matter” by claiming the League Leaders’ Shield with a last-second win at Huddersfield before going on to beat Wigan narrowly in a sold-out Grand Final.

Solly had staked his reputation on the radical new structure in which Super League and the Championship is split into three divisions after 23 rounds to determine the Grand Finalists and possible relegation through a series of play-offs.

“I am probably a little less nervous than last year because we’ve seen how good the structure is and how well it can work,” Solly said.

“I always believed it would be successful but it probably worked even better than I thought it would have done if you think of some of the moments from last year.

“We had some great unique moments in 2015 but there’s no reason why we won’t get repeats in 2016.”