Watching a lot of both the NRL and NFL there are a number of similarities in how the games are officiated.
There are two key areas though that I think the NRL can look to the NFL in order to better their own process and ensure the correct decisions are made.
First, it’s the ability for a change in possession to be reviewed. Second, it’s the structure of the NFL’s over time period.
Let’s start with the change in possession rules.
Under the NFL’s rules, every fumble and intercept is reviewed by the on-field officials to ensure that the correct call is made on the field.
A brief example would be the recent match between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.
The Broncos receiver appeared to fumble a catch that was recovered by Seattle. After review it was ruled that the receiver never had the ball secured and it was ruled an incomplete pass, meaning that Denver kept the ball.
The officials had made the incorrect call on the field but a quick review meant they were able to correct it.
In virtually every NRL game, you will see a penalty or knock-on ruled which, after one replay is obviously incorrect.
It happened in the Roosters versus Cowboys game. Sonny Bill Williams clearly lost the ball in the play-the-ball yet the on-field referees ruled there was a hand in the ruck, awarding a penalty with the Roosters then landing the match-winning field goal.
Whilst I don’t think the NRL could review every single knock-on, the video referee must have some jurisdiction on the field.
It was clear after one replay that Williams had dropped the ball cold. This situation is when the video referee can get involved.
Another option is to introduce the captain’s challenge which has been tested for the past two seasons in the National Youth Competition.
Award each team two incorrect challenges a half and then the pressure is off the video referee to immediately intervene and it’s up to both teams to review the plays.
Moving onto the over time issue.
NRL Golden Point is often seen as an unfair finish to the game. Admittedly I see it as a little anti-climactic for one side to be able to nail a field goal and the other side given no opportunity to respond.
The NFL recently amended their over-time rules to prevent the game being finished by one side that could march down-field and land the points from range.
Currently in the NFL, a field goal does not end the game immediately. If one team kicks a field goal, the opposition is given the opportunity to respond in kind.
If they score a touchdown the game is over there and then, if they kick a field goal it continues under sudden death rules.
This format is a lot fairer as it gives both sides the chance to score in extra time but also brings the try back into play which is rarely seen in extra time.
Another option is to simply play out the full 10 minutes regardless of scoring plays like they do in football.
If it’s during the regular season then the match ends after 10 minutes with the score as it stands.
If it’s during the finals then it continues until one of the sides scores.
The NFL is a multi-billion dollar game, the least the NRL could do is learn off it.