NRL to consider banning post-match officiating comments

Josh McAllister
NRL referee

The NRL is considering banning coaches on commenting on refereeing performances. Photo by AAP Image/Dan Himbrecht.

The NRL is considering banning coaches from commenting on referees during their post-match press conferences, according to reports in Australia.

News Corp reports that the issue was discussed at a CEOs conference last week and had ‘wide-ranging’ support from those involved.

Referees have become a major talking point on both sides of the globe, including recent comments from Salford boss Paul Rowley who branded referee Jack Smith a “disgrace” following an 18-15 defeat to four-peat champions St Helens.

The 48-year-old coach was referred to the Rugby Football League’s compliance department, with the outcome yet to be announced.

NRL star and Brisbane Broncos full-back Reece Walsh was found guilty of verbally abusing referee Chris Butler in June, forcing him to miss State of Origin Game III for Queensland. He was handed a three-match ban.

Super League centre Josh Griffin also received a monster seven-match ban with Hull, ending his Black & White career early, having been sent off and later found guilty of abusing referee Chris Kendall in the Challenge Cup. He was issued a Grade F charge for “questioning the integrity of a match official”.

The NRL previously outlawed all talk on referee performances. In 2015, players, coaches and officials were completely banned on making any public comments.

A number of Super League and NRL coaches have questioned decisions made on the field during respective 2023 campaigns. Most recently, Canberra Raiders head coach Ricky Stuart took aim at referee Adam Gee after his side’s defeat to Brisbane, including questions over a sin-bin to Jordan Rapana, having also been filmed swearing at a cameraman on live TV to ‘f*** off’.

In Super League, Leeds coach Rohan Smith recently vented his frustration after Jake Connor was awarded a drop-goal in Huddersfield’s 21-12 win over the Rhinos at the Joh Smith’s Stadium.

Following the Round 23 clash, Super League referee Marcus Griffiths was the victim of homophobic abuse on social media, revealing the vile messages sent to his Instagram account.

The Rugby Football League condemned the abuse as “disgraceful” with relevant authorities alerted.

RFL director and former referee Robert Hicks added: “We will do what we have to in order to support and kick this out.”

Every Super League game could be shown live and feature a video referee from 2024 under proposals for a new broadcasting deal with Sky Sports.

At the moment, there are only video referees at televised games. Rugby League Commercial has entered into a 30-day exclusivity agreement with the company to formalise the rights agreement that could run until the end of 2026.

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