GREEN BAY, WI – Today’s sports are becoming a true show of athleticism. Teams are actively looking for ways to keep their players healthier, faster, stronger, and more knowledgeable. In today’s fast paced changing game at the elite levels it is only acceptable to assume that a referee would also be required to be faster, stronger, and smarter. Yet, how can referees achieve this. In a South African university environment they have been testing just that-a dual referee system.
Rather than looking at making the referee better they are looking at adding more referees to the game. Something that most sports have already started to do. The NFL has numerous officials, basketball and hockey both have three, rugby league has two main referees, and soccer has continued to add extra assistants throughout the game. Rugby on the other hand has almost always had a one man system. What South Africa has aimed to do is introduce a second referee to the field.
In doing so they have aimed to have more coverage of the game; the ability to see the blindside of the ruck, the weak-side of the scrum, and also manage the offside line in play better. The fitness that’s required is decreased, however this is not in a negative way as the referees still strive to be better within the game. Being able to cover the other areas allows for a more fluid and dynamic game.
Having had the opportunity to referee in the two official system it provided the raw glimpse I was hoping for. In the system the referees rely on each other much more; the communication needs to be there, and they have to work to make the best positions for the game. Together the work as a team, providing for a fluid game. It’s fairly interesting come scrum time as there seem to be less infringements as compared to the one man system.
The two man system is something that has been used since 2008 in the Varsity Cup (South Africa’s premier university competition). With the additional referee it decreases burden on a single referee to get every infringement, something that is arguably impossible. Yet, while increasing accuracy within a game both are things that provide for a more fluid game.
What would you think of seeing two referees in your next rugby match?
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