Ref cam key to creating Super League pathway and stopping drain of match officials

James Gordon
Referee Liam Moore champions ref cam

Referee camera technology will be rolled out further within the community game after a pilot was hailed a success.

Six cameras were used by the National Conference League last season, worn by referees as a test to combat abuse.

As a result of that successful trial, a further 200 cameras have now been funded, which means all games in the first round of this year’s Challenge Cup will feature an official wearing a ref cam.

The ref cam is a high quality, go-pro camera that has a number of benefits, including deterring abuse but also as a development tool. The idea was thought up following a conference between clubs, leagues, officials and referees’ societies last year in a bid to combat the issue.

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Pilot success

Super League referee Liam Moore said: “Poor touchline behaviour and poor player behaviour towards young referees was causing a big impact on the size of the pool of match officials.

“We have no problem recruiting referees, the issue is retaining them. One of the biggest factors in losing referees, even experienced ones, is being abused on the touchline or by a coach or player. Once they leave, they’re lost to the game and we are back to square one.

“We’re pleased to report that not only did the camera act as a deterrent for players not to abuse the referee, we saw abuse cases from the touchline across the NCL lower last year. It has been a fantastic first pilot scheme.

“It’s a really positive way of introducing referees and it’s another tool we have in place. As well as being used for disciplinary purposes, the development we can give to referees by being able to hear what they’re saying and how they’re managing players is something we’ve simply never had before in the community game.

“So that means the purpose of the head cams can now be to also develop referees and bring them through the system, hopefully all the way through to Super League.”

Be the ref

Moore has previously taken part in the State of Mind initiative, Be The Ref. He wore a special camera during the Chris Hill testimonial between Warrington and Leigh, while Marcus Griffiths also donned it during a Super League game between Salford and St Helens.

Be The Ref is a virtual reality experience that enables supporters to see a game through the eyes of a referee. It has been accessible at a range of events over the past year, including at State of Mind sponsored matches.

Phil Cooper, co-founder and Trustee of State of Mind Sport said, “Abuse of referees is one of the main reasons referees leave the sport and State of Mind are concerned on the impacts on the mental fitness of referees at all levels if they are not treated with the absolute respect they deserve.”

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