Referee respect down to rugby 'tradition'

The head of Premiership referees Ed Morrison has said rugby officials are shown more respect than in football because of the tradition of the sport.

There have been calls for football to replicate rugby and

Morrison told BBC Look East: "In the game that has been handed down to us the referee is very much respected.

"His decision making is accepted. That's a tradition in rugby. It's not necessarily been so in soccer."

In recent years football has increasingly shown a culture of players surrounding referees in an attempt to influence his decisions.

Rugby is often noted for the authority referees possess on the field and conversations between players and officials are broadcast to viewers and spectators.

But Morrison, the head of elite referee development for the Rugby Football Union, believes the respect his colleagues receive is inherent in the game.

"Soccer referees are incredibly skilful. They live in a very different environment to the environment we live in," he said.

"They're not blessed with that tradition we've got. What we have to do as referees is uphold that tradition and make sure we pass it on.

"In rugby terms I think we're well placed as referees. Our regard is pretty high and we have to make sure we stay there."

Rugby referees regularly face criticism for their inconsistency for the decisions around the scrum and the breakdown.

But Morrison, who retired from refereeing in 2001, believes the game as a whole has a responsibility to tidy up the scrum.

"A lot of the problems around the scrum are not because of the complexities. It's because of either poor coaching, not such good playing ability or poor refereeing," he said.

"The problem with the scrum is a game problem. It's not an isolated referee or coaching problem. The game as a whole has to face up to that responsibility.

"I don't think two referees would help the scrum. I've witnessed it in South Africa. My own view is it doesn't work at this stage.

"Would it work in the future? It could well do. I've heard people come up with suggestions where you bring on a scrum expert for a scrum. How long do you wait for the guy to arrive on the pitch?

"I think removing the pause from the engagement sequence has helped. But it only helped a little bit. There's still a long way to go."