NRL refs eschew pink in authority boost bid

NRL referees will not be wearing pink this season, as it is felt that the colour lessens their authority on the field.

Instead, they will be wearing red or blue, colours that it is felt encourage more discipline amongst players.

Performance psychologist Chris Pomfret, of Condor Performance, however, insists that there is no link between the colour of the jersey and a referee’s effectiveness.

Nevertheless, he maintains that the change shows that the NRL is taking referee development seriously.

“As I understand it, the NRL spends a lot of time and energy on improving the performance of their officials as of course do the referees themselves,” he told Australian media.

“The general public either don’t recognise this, don’t acknowledge it, or don’t give it much thought and so they won’t be aware of most changes which take place from year to year, or during the course of a season.

“As such, a change in colour can be a symbolic gesture which is easily recognised and suggests change in general, presumably change for the better.

“The colour of a uniform is irrelevant to the skill execution of referees, just the same as the colour of a jersey worn by players is irrelevant to their skill execution.

“In short, the colour of a uniform shouldn’t matter as it doesn’t directly impact on the performance of a referee, which ultimately has the most influence on their perceived credibility.”

Not everyone is happy with the change, however.

Dr Tom Heenan, of the National Centre for Australian Studies, believes that the chance could alienate certain groups.

“I don’t think this move away from pink really supports social inclusion,” he told the BBC World Service.

“If you are wanting a more inclusive football community you have to be more aware of the symbolisms of marginal groups within that community.”

Meanwhile, NRL referees’ chief Tony Archer has confirmed that the lead referee in NRL matches will now be denoted by wearing an armband.

“There is a team leader appointed each week, who will referee a minimum of 80 per cent of the game,” Archer said.

“He will be the controlling referee, he may be positioned on the ruck at different stages if the game requires him to be on the ruck and if the game requires him to be on the 10 metre position, he will be on that position.

“The lead referee will have an armband similar to a soccer captain and that is how he will be recognised as the leader.

“Externally some people didn’t know who the lead referee was last year but he will be recognised publicly and some clubs didn’t even realise who it was at certain games. We need to understand that and sell that.”

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