The NRL may revert to one on-field referee to save money.
The Project Apollo innovations committee on Friday reportedly submitted a proposal to can the two-referee system in favour of reverting to the model used in the NRL before 2009.
International rugby league has continued to use just one on-field official despite the NRL sticking solid with its two-referee system for the past 11 years.
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But with the game facing a dire financial situation, the Australian Rugby League Commission is searching for ways the NRL can save money and cut spending.
The ARLC will now discuss the Project Apollo proposal at a meeting next week.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys told NRL.com he will support the proposal and hopes it gets voted in.
The Daily Telegraph reports the referees group was informed of the proposal on Friday.
The NRL season is set to resume on May 28 and so referees will need to get up to speed with the one-ref system in little more than two weeks
The radical proposal came as NRL coaches voiced their opposition to major rule changes ahead of the anticipated season restart.
The NRL’s Project Apollo committee has discussed a raft of rule changes to ease players into the competition when it starts next month, including extending halftime, drinks breaks every 20 minutes and increasing the number of interchanges.
However, on Friday North Queensland coach Paul Green said because two rounds had already been played, any rule changes would impact the integrity of the competition.
“The general feeling amongst most of the coaches is that we shouldn’t be tinkering with the rules,” he said.
“The comp loses a little bit of integrity if you start for a period under one set of rules and then play the rest of the year for a different set of rules.”
It’s understood NRL coaches have also voted against increasing the interchange from eight to 10.
St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor said he is also opposed to any rule changes but said there is merit in adding an 18th man for player safety. The 18th player would replace one of his teammates in the team if a player is injured in an act of foul play.
“I think the 18th man is a decent decision because the impact it could have on other players and the lack of the progression in contact,” he said.
“Usually you go from getting off the ground, which we can do comfortably now, into pad work, into contact, into collision.
“With that only two-week period window there to do that, it makes sense to have an 18th person that could take the field if you lose someone through foul play or a concussion.” Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook also supports the 18th man as a permanent rule change moving forward.
“I’m comfortable either way. If it does get brought in, I think it’s OK,” he said.
“And if not, we have already started the season. But I think for next year, if not this year, it’d be a great idea.”
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— with AAP