Are referees the new stars of the NRL?
NRL referees co-coach Bill Harrigan speaks to the media about some of the controversial referee calls during last nights State of Origin during a press conference at Rugby League Central in Sydney, Thursday, May 24, 2012. The NSW Blues lost to Queensland in the first of three State of Origin matches. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
I can picture it now, the advertising campaign for the 2013 season. But there’s a change to the normal advertising campaigns.
Instead of the usual big hits, scintillating attacking play and the turbo charged anthem which accompany the ads. I think the NRL should centre it on the people who have pushed their way into the spotlight in 2012, the referees.
It seems that in 2012, the standard of refereeing in the NRL has plunged to a surprisingly new low, highlighted by the weekly outrage that follows Bill Harrigan’s round up of the “controversial” decisions of the weekend.
We’ve had the Greg Inglis rebound try which left all those from the south of the Tweed screaming blue murder. There have been countless other decisions which have been declared wrong a few days after the game.
That is the fundamental flaw within the system. There is no accountability in the ranks; sure someone will be “dropped” for a week, with Matt Cecchin being the highest profile case, but the standard is not improving.
Cecchin is following on in a grand tradition of referees who create a personality for themselves to mimic their refereeing style. This normally gives the illusion that the referee is bigger than the game. However, referees are best when not seen at all or discussed.
Matt Cecchin is a product of this refereeing system. He’s not afraid to make the big call which in itself isn’t bad but when he consistently gets them wrong, much like Origin One where some very petty penalty calls (Greg Bird lifting “tackle” a prime example) ruin what might have been a closer contest.
This kind of reactive refereeing is destroying a game which deep down has its charm in the simplicity of the rules. You knock it on, it’s a scrum, you stand offside, penalty or when a team is attacking, playing an advantage. That is natural common sense. The major complaint fans have is the lack of it being applied to situations by referees in game situations.
Currently the rules are being observed to the smallest detail (see the Greg Inglis try)
In my time watching rugby league, I haven’t heard of this ruling before and even when it was explained as wrong by Harrigan, Cecchin wasn’t reprimanded.
You will never eradicate blunders by the referees in any sport but you can limit them by using common sense on rulings. Rugby league can’t keep allowing errors to dominate the headlines, as it will reflect badly on a game which is looking to go to the next level.
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