The role of the Citing Commissioner combines aspects of observation and judgement. Observation skills are developed through experience and knowledge of the game. Knowledge of the game can be enabled by intuition and observation, but we must complement this with process. To a large part observation cannot alone be relied on as it is impossible to identify all possible issues that may arise.
There are things that occur in the game that are indicators that foul play could have occurred. When they occur, the Citing Commissioner should review them as a matter of good practice. The following are indicators:
- Blood bin. If a player is sent to the Blood Bin, especially for a head injury this should be reviewed
Tip: As a rule of thumb the best way to do this is to go to the immediately previous set-piece restart and confirm that the player does not have the injury at that point. Following the Blood Bin player from that point until an incident is detected should reveal the cause of the injury.
- Head Injury Assessment(HIA) Normally the Referee will indicate that a player is leaving the field for a HIA and they are to be replaced. Team medical staff may also come onto the field while play continues. As a result, a player can leave the field for a HIA with very few indicators on the broadcast. It is an area that requires vigilance. The recommended course of action is to go to the immediately previous set-piece restart and review from that point forward.
- Player reaction. Player reaction is a good indicator that something has occurred. Players themselves have a good idea about what is permissible within the Laws of the Game. When an action occurs that is outside of what they consider permissible there can be many indicators:
- Player affected - can retaliate against the opposition player, hold onto the opposition player, appeal to the Referee or the Assistant Referee
- Player observing it occurring to one of their team mates - can retaliate against the opposition player, hold onto the opposition player, appeal to the Referee or the Assistant Referee
- Histrionics - This describes a situation where a player over-dramatises the effect of something that has (or hasn’t) happened to them. Despite the over dramatization, there can be an element of foul play involved and it is worth reviewing
- Captain referral to the Referee - On occasion you can detect a team captain or vice-captain asking the Referee to review a matter via the Television Match Official (TMO). The TMO’s role is prescribed and is usually in relation to foul play. A referee is not required to comply with the request and can ignore it. When a referee does not refer the matter to the TMO it is always worth checking to see what the nature of the complaint was
- On-field Injury - On-field injuries that would prompt a review are usually those which cause a stop in play for the injured player to be treated. From broadcast footage it is usually possible to tell what part of the body is affected. There may be a temptation to ignore some injuries as unlikely to be generated by foul play, such as leg injuries. Review is always advisable as foul play can result in unforeseen consequences to other parts of the body or other players
- Commentators - Occasionally the on-air commentators for the broadcaster can be of assistance. At times they see incidents happening that are away from the broadcast parts of play (such as fights and scuffles) or incidents they consider foul play. You may hear them make a comment about these matters and these could merit some investigation
- Crowd Reaction - Spectators near an incident may react to what has occurred and if the incident is the subject of a replay if a screen is available.