Fans weary of two refs
YOU clearly want rugby league’s rules and coaches to stimulate a better spectacle, controlled by one referee and for the video review process to be shorter.
But the 5500 readers of major News Corp websites who responded to our NRL fan survey also produced two virtual dead-heats and two nearrun votes on four of the biggest issues in the game.
Because of the sample size, the opinions of our readers should be well noted by the NRL and its head of strategy Shane Richardson, who is developing a review of the sport to be handed this year.
Some results will confirm the existing views of NRL bosses, such as their push for the competition to have a centralised bunker for decision referrals next year.
The ARL Commission was to have decided by late this month on whether to fund the system, which trials have shown more than halve the time taken for a video referee decision, and appoint a technology provider.
A majority of 79.3 per cent of respondents reckoned video referees take too long to make a decision, which tallies reasonably with the NRL’s own feedback.
But 58.7 per cent of our readers said they want a return to the one-referee system at a time when the NRL wants to plug on with two referees and is also trialling extra touch judges as well as the “bunker’’ resources claimed to reduce delays for reviews by an average of four minutes per match.
Given a series of responses to choose from in naming the biggest issue facing NRL CEO David Smith, 25.7 per cent cited “the game as a spectacle’’, with 21.4 saying the performance of executives who run the sport and 20.9 most concerned about a crowd decline of 5 per cent at NRL matches this year.
But asked if Smith should open the NRL’s war chest to retain star players and entice others, 50.6 per cent were against the revenue being used that way.
At the end of a second season in which lifting tackles have been in the spotlight, a bare majority of 50.05 per cent believe all lifting tackles should be penalised.
The question of whether State of Origin matches should be played outside the competing states drew a 55.4 per cent “no’’ vote, indicating the NRL may be winning through at- trition its argument that the series should be used to expose the game to other cities and to maximise income.
It is a surprisingly even vote, but perhaps the people most inclined to take our survey are also among those most interested in the game’s health, regardless of state allegiances.
Our readers delivered a 68.2 per cent “no’’ vote when asked if other nationalities, such as Fijian Semi Radradra, should be eligible for Origin selection.
Even Sydneysiders in our national vote evidently doubt there will be the current nine Sydney region teams in the NRL in 10 years’ time.
Asked if this representation would be in evidence in 2025, 60.8 per cent said “no’’.
In another national vote, a second Brisbane team placed third with 14.7 per cent to the question of where the next expansion club should be located.
Central Queensland placed fourth (11.2) behind Perth (27.3) and Gosford (17.1). Perth’s candidacy has faded in recent months, with Channel 9 and leading television industry analysts calling for a second club in Brisbane as the first step.
The NRL’s decision to introduce an eight-interchange system drew a majority of support, with 54.9 per cent saying it is the best interchange option. Only 15.2 per cent want 10 interchanges retained, with 29.3 per cent wanting the cap to be six in a match.
Despite mostly dismal Thursday night match crowds outside Queensland, the time- slot, which will figure more prominently in coming seasons, drew a thumbs up, with a 70.8 per cent approval rating.
But the NRL received a Mal Meninga-style fend on the question of which Australian football code has won the publicity war to draw people.
League scored 14.7 per cent from what is almost entirely a league demographic of responders, with Australian rules football (47.2) and football (33.5) regarded as better in the battle for hearts and minds.