Mitchell joins refereeing standards debate

 Credit:NZPA / Wayne DroughtFormer All Black coach John Mitchell has waded into the debate about refereeing standards. Writing on the Vodacom website, Mitchell writes that “referees have become overly process-driven.”  But he commended the accountability shown in recent days by referees boss Lyndon Bray.  Mitchell’s main criticism is that in becoming too process-driven, the current crop of SANZAR SuperRugby officials have “lost their feel for the game and don’t use common sense.”

The former Western Force, Lions and Golden Lions coach said the current officials “need far greater support in terms of developing as referees in a game scenario. I would like to see referees attending teams’ training sessions on a regular basis. Aeroplane pilots are put through a rigorous set of simulated tests, in addition to the theoretical work they do, to help them to deal with every situation they will encounter while actually flying a plane. I feel referees should be helped in a similar fashion.”

It constantly amazes the team that top level referees don’t appear to be regular attenders at teams’ training sessions. Perhaps there is a fear that they may become too familiar with those clubs near their home and they disproportionately hinder those who don’t get the same opportunity by virtue of not having a referee near them. A difficult balance but one we’re sure can be overcome.

Mitchell goes on to discuss the Coach-Referee position saying that they are not allowed to give referees qualitative feedback, “which I think is ridiculous, as referees should be getting information on both teams anyway.”