Peter Smith: '˜Ridiculous' World Club Challenge ref row was all so unnecessary

THE ROW over the decision to appoint two referees for tomorrow's Downer World Club Challenge is typical rugby league.

Thursday, 15th February 2018, 7:00 pm
Leeds Rhinos players train in Melbourne. PIcture: SWPIX.COM.

The southern hemisphere’s NRL uses two men in the middle, an innovation introduced to tidy up issues around the ruck.

As far as everywhere else – including Betfred Super League and international matches – is concerned, one referee is plenty.

Most previous World Club Challenges have been played in England and therefore operated to international rules, though when Wigan Warriors travelled to South Sydney four years ago there were two referees.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Today is something of a hybrid; there’ll be 12 interchanges, as opposed to eight in the NRL and Super League’s 10.

That was agreed by both clubs.

Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington has accused the NRL of trying to sabotage Leeds’ chances with the two-refs decision.

One response might be why all the fuss?

But the issue isn’t so much the two refs as the timing of the announcement, 48 hours before the game, according to Leeds.

Rhinos have never played under two referees and were expecting different rules. Had this been announced in November, when the game was confirmed, there’d have been no problem.

It’s mind boggling that these things aren’t agreed – and made clear – well in advance.

The bottom line is, rugby league operates under (at least) two different sets of laws, which is ridiculous.

There are many things league should do to make itself appear more competently-run and standardising its rules between all competitions is high on the list.