Referees will retain the right to issue a full penalty and place players in the sin bin for persistent ruck infringements and professional fouls.
“The decision shouldn’t been seen as taking one referee out, it should be that we are using three full-time experienced referees controlling the game, which will ensure greater surveillance of the ruck and the wrestle,” commission chairman Peter V’landys said.
“This decision will significantly reduce the number of stoppages in games and showcase more open unstructured play for the benefit of fans. These decisions address the issue of wrestling and slowing the ruck down, which has been the biggest issue in the game.
“It’s clear the current system hasn’t effectively addressed the issue of wrestling in the game. Reverting to one referee together with the new six-again rule gives us a chance to speed up the ruck and create more free-flowing rugby league.”
“Giving the attacking team six more tackles for a ruck infringement will be a significant deterrent to slowing the ruck. No team is going to want to defend multiple sets of tackles without a stoppage in
play. This is the greatest disincentive for what has become habitual ruck infringements.”
The commission’s decision comes despite some of the sharpest minds in the game, including Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson, Wests Tigers coach, Michael Maguire, Canberra boss Don Furner and Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans opposing the move at a consultancy meeting on Monday.
The Commission will review the one-referee model at the end of the year to determine whether it remains a permanent fixture for future seasons.
The Referees’ Association has indicated it could take legal and/or industrial action ahead of the May 28 restart date in the belief they weren’t consulted as required under the terms struck in the enterprise bargaining agreement.
The Herald reported on Wednesday that Nine Entertainment Co, the publisher of this masthead, was close to finalising a revised three-year deal with the NRL which would make up a portion of a $1.9 billion broadcast deal.
However the figures outlined in the Herald, which said Nine would receive a discount of about $50-$70 million over the next three seasons, has left Foxtel disappointed and now seeking a better deal.
A source with knowledge of the negotiations says Foxtel are now further away from a deal than when it was two days ago, returning to the negotiation table to pressure the NRL into a better arrangement.
Foxtel’s delay is likely to push the release of this season’s draw back to next week, as both broadcast partners finalise their selections of games they want included in the schedule.
Nine’s revised deal could represent a saving of up to 20 per cent on what it was originally due to pay in the final three years of the deal. Based on that discount, Nine will pay about $85-$90m in 2020, a discount of up to $30m. It will pay in the vicinity of $90-$100m in the final two years.
Foxtel, which was originally meant to pay $190m in 2020, is now angling for a similar percentage saving over the remaining three years of the existing deal before it agrees on an extension from 2023 to 2027 worth around $200m a year.
Michael Chammas is a sports reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald