FORMER high-level league referee Joe Porter has slammed the current state of officiating in the BRL.
Porter says many referees are unfit to blow the whistle at the first-grade level.
The one-time Brisbane A-grade referee, who spent six years controlling games in Bundaberg in the 1970s, said he was shocked at what he saw when he returned to Salter Oval after a lengthy absence from Bundaberg.
“It's not good. If the refs of yes-teryear saw that, they would shake their heads,” Porter said.
“The development of the officials and attitude needs a look at.”
While everyone knows referees aren't perfect, Porter is not alone in his criticism.
Across The Waves were on the wrong end of a 13-1 penalty count last weekend — something coach Mark Craswell has grown tired of.
“It's been inconsistent all year and I don't think the linesmen are giving enough assistance,” Craswell said.
“I've seen punches thrown that were in sight of the touchy and haven't been blown. Sometimes I think they're scared to make decisions.”
Brothers playmaker Steve Irwin has been another to speak out, saying the referees lacked respect for the players and had been treating them like children.
A group of four referees, three local and one from the Sunshine Coast, control the three A-grade games each weekend.
It means that their appointment is more or less secure, despite the quality of their performance.
“WE haven't got many to choose from, but in years to come we have some juniors coming through that will improve the standard,” Bundaberg Rugby League Referees Association president Rod Christensen said.
“I'd say the refereeing standard is on par or slightly better than last season.”
The referees' boss said the current crop of junior whistleblowers had grown at least 10% in the past year.
“The problem is hanging on to them despite them copping abuse from the crowd.”
Rule changes and the game's evolution make it hard to compare eras — something Christensen is mindful of.
“You can't honestly compare the standard to 15 years ago. They used to allow high tackles and the game is much quicker these days,” he said.
“Every losing team likes to blame someone and that someone usually ends up being the ref. Refs make mistakes, but so do players, and players get penalised for them.”
He said the current crop of referees were subject to weekly assessment and had been instructed to clamp down on on-field swearing and back chat.
“That's something we've focused on after the BRL have been on to it this year.”
With all A-grade referees using walkie-talkies, Christensen said there was a lot more communication between the central referee and touch judge than could be seen from the sidelines.