The NRL has confirmed a new officiating structure following a review of refereeing across the game.

The new NRL officiating structure includes the elite level as well as development and pathways for referees nationally.

The revised structure will include:

  • the appointment of Bernard Sutton to the new role of Senior Manager – Officiating;
  • the appointment of Premiership-winning NRL Coach Michael Maguire as High Performance Coach – Officiating and Leadership Consultant;
  • Robert Finch taking the role of Senior Manager – Education, Development and Pathways;
  • Tony Archer’s General Manager – Officiating role now covering the national structure rather than just the elite group.

As part of the new structure, Sutton will assume the day-to-day running of the elite referee’s group and the NRL Bunker while Maguire’s role is to bring a football perspective across officiating programs and processes.

Maguire’s role will also include developing a high-performance team and implementing performance programs.

NRL Head of Football Brian Canavan said Maguire would provide a new perspective to the officiating structure.

“Michael is a Premiership-winner with South Sydney and Wigan and through his time as a coach he has had a strong focus on leadership,” Canavan said.

“He has experience helping corporates with leadership and high-performance culture across two countries.

“He has also been a respected and valued member of the NRL Competition Committee for several years, where his knowledge and insight have been able to shape the forward progress of the game.

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“As part of this role, he will be part of relevant committees in the NRL football department.  Michael will also provide strategic consultancy to the broader organisation working with the NRL CEO, Head of People and Culture and Head of Football.”

Canavan said Sutton had been a valued member of the officiating department in recent years and deserved the opportunity to take on this new role.

“He will lead the officials on a day-to-day basis and will also focus on the technical aspect of officiating,” Canavan said.

Sutton said he was pleased to be given the opportunity to take on the new role.

“We have an outstanding group of officials and I’m looking forward to working with them all in this capacity through 2018 and beyond,” Sutton said.

An appointments panel, led by Sutton, is in the process of being put together, to determine the appointment of match officials each week.

Canavan said the new structure was designed to improve officiating and pathways nationally.

“This is a different structure for the officiating group to what we have ever had before,” Canavan said.

“Tony Archer’s role will focus on the national programs, integrating education, development, recruitment, retention and high-performance programs.

“I think he is ideally placed to develop the national structure.”

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Sutton, Maguire and Archer will begin their new roles immediately.


    • Not necessarily suechi. This could actually be a shrewd move. Many axed coaches either have a year or two away from coaching like Ivan Cleary or take up a head coaching role in SL like Geoff Toovey or become assistant coaches like Jason Taylor (who has made a career from alternating between Head coach and assistant coach). No coach (at least that I can remember) has gone from being a head coach at a club that won a premiership only to be demoted to the role of assistant coach at another club. Madge deserves better than that (as would Bellamy, Hasler or even Bennett if ever they were axed).

      This way Madge can have a positive, perhaps long lasting influence on the game and make a valuable contribution while he waits for his next coaching opportunity. The coaching game is a never ending game of musical chairs as one coach invariably misses out each year or every second year so there are always opportunities. Madge was heavily invested emotionally and culturally at the Rabbitohs (which as a supporter of the club I am extremely thankful for) so it is best that he has a year or two away from the game to freshen his perspective and his outlook for the future. I believe Madge still has a lot to offer but unfortunately the door has been closed at Souths but there will be other opportunities down the track.

      • Forgot to mention this could end up being a shrewd move by Madge in that he will get an inside look at the thought processes and decision making of referees and learn how best to adapt his coaching methods to suit. It may also gain him some subtle (though not overt) sympathy from time to time. Who knows but I think it is about time a former coach has some input into the way referees interpret the rules using discretion and common sense and understand the perspective of players and coaches. It all depends on how much power and influence Madge is allowed to have. If he is just going to be a glorified conditioning coach and trainer then it will be a farce.

        • Spot on SSTID. I was thinking the same thing, and about post, but you’ve summed it up perfectly.

          I just hope his position carries some genuine weight (real input) and as long as does, and I think it will, then this is a real positive.

        • There still is the elephant in the room to contend with… the LONG overdue revision and simplification of the rules for the modern game.

          Where do I begin? Two man strips that are no such thing given the intended purpose that the rule was introduced for. Ditto for tackling players in the air (2 inches off the ground), dragging players to China and back and call it momentum in a tackle, blocking of kick chasers by players who claim to be contesting the ball but have NO idea where the ball is going to land, players feigning to lose a ball in a tackle or in grabbing the jersey of a defender or locking them up in a tackle, play-the-balls that end up 2 metres ahead of the tackle or off on a 45 degree angle, scrums! Don’t get me started on scrums mighty. Everyone wants them gone but I want them restored to their former glory. Bring the BIG men back into the game (like George Rose, what an athlete!) give pack weight it’s intended meaning and teams a genuine chance to win possession by forcing scrums to be fed between the two hookers feet (what a novel idea). Forwards should lean into scrums and use their weight, just like in Rugby Union.

          The rules mighty, they are a joke and “interpretation” is all too often an excuse for ignorance! We need a committee of former players and coaches and a couple of former referees to thrash this out. Are you with me! Let’s start another march on Sydney Town Hall torches, pitch forks and all. 😉

        • This just can’t be addressed in a series of posts.

          In it’s most simple form, I think the best result for the sport is “consistency”.

          Get consistency right, even within a relatively “loose” rules based model, and it can work, but try to get the rules “firm”, and you will fail. By that, and just a really simple example, but how long is too long in a tackle? Let’s face it we can all answer that, but equally, we could all find against that judgement (our own interpretation) in a real game situation.

          I think RL is such a great sport because it looks simple, and it’s not. We have to respect that, value that, and work on consistency. Make / change rules where you can, but consistency of interpretation of any rules above all else.

        • THAT is precisely the problem though mighty, the rules ARE too “loose”.

          Any thoughts from the rest of ZT’s brains trust on all of the above?

        • Just as I thought. I didn’t think there would be a single Roosters supporter that could make a relevant contribution to this discussion about the game. I had high hopes for WoodChook but not much hope for MadRooster, who didn’t disappoint. So it seems Roosters really CAN’T fly or transcend beyond the limits of tribalism and their usual hollow arguments.

          I thought tommy, penso, chalky, the school of eels and flock of seagulls could have made a contribution though.

          Every time I try to dive deep into issues at the heart of the game very few here are intetested in engaging but would rather bicker over minor points. As an online community we can do much better IMO.

    • Careful there Sun Tzu, you don’t want to start becoming predictable. That would fly in the face of your own teachings. 😉

  1. all reports are that Chrichton has been offered and accepted a 4 yr deal under the salary cap sombrero at rorters – don’t know the accuracy but apparently he has deleted reggie from his insta account and replaced with a brown paper bag.

    • Sad but true. My son texted me earlier today. I think it is a mistake for both Crichton and Souths. He will face more competition for playing time at the chooks. At Souths he would have been guaranteed big minutes.

      Pretty sad really. The Roosters weren’t interested until Souths gave him an opportunity and he proved to be a gun.

      The salary cap is a joke! The Roosters still need to re-sign Friend and Cordner but held off until Crichton came on board. How in the hell can the Roosters now sign Friend and Cordner for their true “market value” and remain salary cap compliant when they have a team full of rep players (including a former international and SOO player for $250K) 2 players on $1 mill a season and Keary and Crichton on ay least $800K each. Cordner should also be on something close. It’s a disgrace! The NRL are clearly turning a blind eye to all of this. Why aren’t all the clubs and coaches up in arms about this like they were for tge Sam Burgess re-signing in 2016? Doesn’t that strike you as suspicious?

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