Video’s killing the Super League stars

Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane

SHAUN Wane admits Wigan are altering their attack for televised games – to try and combat the strict policing of the obstruction rule.

Friday’s home clash against Castleford is the FIFTH time in succession when the Warriors have been shown live on TV.

During that run, viewers - and fans - have been left frustrated at both the number of referrals to the video official, and some of the controversial interpretations of the obstruction rule.

Other games have also been marred by the same issue.

And Wane’s admission that the Warriors tweak their style of play, possibly by reducing the decoy runners, shows the issue has become much more than a talking point for supporters.

He believes many of the ‘tries’ which have been ruled out by video referees would have been given at non-televised games – and consequently reckons teams shown frequently on TV, such as Wigan, are at a disadvantage.

Asked whether he was changing the way they play for televised matches, he admitted: “Yes. You have to.

“We’ve been on TV a lot recently and it’s a rule which isn’t policed the same when you’re not.

“The fact is, if the cameras aren’t there, many of the tries are allowed, so it puts you as a massive disadvantage if you’re a team like us and you’re on TV a lot.

“It shouldn’t be that way. It’s not fair.” Wigan have had 10 of their games in all competitions shown live on BBC and Sky Sports – and therefore featuring a video referee – with four more scheduled in the next seven weeks.

Only Leeds, with 11, have been televised live more often until now.

Catalan have been on nine times - a frequency owing to a deal with French broadcaster to show all their home matches, which have video referees.

Of the others, St Helens have been shown 10 times, with Huddersfield (eight), Castleford (six), Hull KR, Salford, Widnes (all five), London, Bradford, Hull FC (all four) and Wakefield twice.

In Saturday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final, the Tigers had a try ruled out for obstruction - when the ball-runner runs behind a team-mate - but another allowed.

And there were similar examples the week before in a Super League loss against Huddersfield.

Wane doesn’t believe rugby league players will begin playing for the cameras, by deliberately colliding with lead runners to try and win penalties - but wants the issue resolved.

“I would be devastated if I thought one of my players was diving into an attacker to get a try disallowed. I would hope all Super League coaches would be like that,” he said.

“I said after the Huddersfield game - even the ones which they scored which were ruled out - I was more into our defenders for the poor reads.”

A passionate rugby league man, Wane believes referees risk ruining one of the sport’s big selling points - its pace and openness - by their over-reliance on video referees.

And he believes an RFL clampdown now would be as much for the benefit of those in the stands and in front of the screens, as for those on the pitch. “We need clear, black and white rules, we can’t carry on having debates. Even the video refs are arguing about it,” he added.

“My concern is if a big game is decided on it. Then it would be a disaster.

“But it’s terrible for the crowd when they’re waiting for a decision.

“It’s not entertaining, it’s boring. If you’re a neutral watching in London or somewhere, and you’re trying to get into the game, you won’t know what’s happening.”