Post-match protests in rugby league
Why should the result of an NRL match be set in stone upon the completion of the final play after the full time siren has sounded?
What if foul play, refereeing blunders, and oversights that affected the outcome were examined and rectified immediately after the game?
The same courtesies are extended to those involved with The Sport of Kings.
Horse racing has had a system in place for more than a century that reviews the outcome of a result should a jockey, trainer, or owner believe that an opponent has benefited by failing to adhere to the rules and regulations, or through a show of poor horsemanship.
The protest in horse racing is either upheld or dismissed. Nervous punters anxiously await the decision of the racing stewards when a large chunk of change falls upon the wisdom of officialdom, and the ability of the affected jockeys to remonstrate and plead their cases.
Final field positions can sometimes take more than an hour with each case deliberated with great attention to detail. Consideration is applied by those responsible that extend to the owners, trainers, jockeys, bookmakers, and punters who ultimately sustain the entire industry.
Should not a similar system be adopted for the NRL? Recently the game has become ensconced within multiple betting agencies who offer odds on numerous outcomes – many of which are resultant upon the total points scored, margins of each game, and the individual try scorers.
One incorrectly awarded try can result in a loss for a punter instead of a healthy win. Foul play, oversights, and refereeing errors could be noted through the game and then reviewed after the match by coaches, captains and officials in a similar fashion to a horse racing stewards’ enquiry.
An illegal strip from a Cowboys player in last week’s match that led to a try against the Eagles just a few plays later would have been reviewed, and then revoked. The score would have been adjusted accordingly, as would the try and conversion from a contentious knock-on where the Sea Eagles were rewarded.
Score lines, and in some instances the result, would change after everyone had sat down at a table together and reviewed the footage for each instance in which a protest was lodged after being considered dubious.
The system could develop autonomously and be slowly perfected on a week to week basis. Players who bent the rules to gain unsportsmanlike advantages would be publicly humiliated post match, and the referees could be publicly exonerated. Players would now have to set an example that all junior players could aspire to in regards to fair play and sportsmanship.
Cheating would no longer be acceptable, or tolerated once the outcome of a match could be reversed – or as the stewards might say “Protest Upheld”.
Incidents that were missed by the officials could be rectified. Tries denied, others allowed, and score lines adjusted. The punters who deserved to win would be rewarded, while those who got lucky through human error and/or blatant cheating would have their payout revoked.
The results would be interim and no different to horse racing until the officials finalised the event in its entirety. It may be a few hours on some nights before the official result was announced, but isn’t that better than a year of moaning about how you were robbed?
Footy tipping comps would be far more accurate, as would scores in Fantasy competitions. Fans would feel as though justice had been served on a far more regular basis.
Coaches and captains would be heard fairly at the game’s completion and their angst with both officials and opponents dealt with immediately rather than the current simmering, boiling, and stewing process that lasts for weeks, months and years. The Press would have plenty to pen besides the anti-refereeing semantics currently doing the rounds.
Players would begin showing a higher level of courtesy and respect to the on-field referees, knowing that their protests will be heard at the completion of the match. Referees could get on with their jobs knowing that a player isn’t going to question each and every decision Mick Ennis style.
Coaches wouldn’t be blowing their stacks in the boxes to the delight of lip readers across the country.
Refs would back themselves to make the right call based on feel and gut instinct.
Players would begin to display integrity, knowing that incorrect scoring decisions would later be reversed. The game would flow like never before. Giddy up.