Should the Bunker be allowed to rule on forward passes?

Mr X Roar Guru

By Mr X, Mr X is a Roar Guru

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    Only a penalty goal separated the Panthers and Roosters with just eight minutes to play, when Luke Keary scooted across the field, linking up with Latrell Mitchell, who found space out wide. Then came that pass.

    And we know the rest.

    A week earlier, the NRL had come under scrutiny for an even worse decision, when Jordan Kahu crossed to level things up at Suncorp Stadium against the Cowboys, off what was described by many outraged social media users as a “Tom Brady special” from James Roberts.

    Yet, this time, the Panthers were not good enough to make up for referee’s mistake and fell 14-12.

    Only hours after the game, NRL Referees’ boss, Tony Archer, came out and admitted they had made a mistake. The pass was forward.

    But how was Archer able to conclusively rule this? Surely the Bunker’s technology played some part in accurately proving it? So, should the Bunker rule on forward passes?

    If this $2 million command system has the benefit of multiple camera angles and zoom technology, why can’t it see forward passes, especially those as clear-cut as the one on Saturday night?

    And this is where the debate gets interesting: how can you decide which forward passes are clear cut and which are not? It seems like the fuss just isn’t worth it.

    The main rebuttal against such a change is the difficulty of ruling forward passes – you know, the ones that are not as obvious, yet can still have a large bearing on the final result.

    Determining whether a pass is forward is a complicated process. It doesn’t simply involve comparing where the player threw the ball with where it landed, many variables need to be considered, including speed, the spin of the ball, momentum and camera angles.

    Momentum is particularly important. If a player is running forwards, then, obviously the ball is also carrying that forward momentum. Camera angles can also be very deceptive, and trying to get your head around all of this can get confusing, hence how long it takes the Bunker to make the correct call. The Bunker was introduced to save time, not add to it!

    So, even as a Penrith tragic, the system as is has to stay: the Bunker cannot rule on forward passes.

    But I am intrigued to find out what Roarers think. Should the Bunker rule on forward passes?

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    The Crowd Says (62)

    • Roar Rookie

      March 20th 2017 @ 1:04pm
      Joe said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

      No. Too many variables in ruling whether a pass is forward or not. If the onfield refs miss it then that’s it. Last thing we need is extra wasting of time for every second try to see if there was a forward pass somewhere.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 1:11pm
        Mr X said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

        As deflating as it can be to watch on replays I wholeheartedly agree with you Joe.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 5:16pm
        E-Meter said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

        I take your point entirely. But the bunker can take ages to work out if the attacking player has knocked the high ball forward – did he touch it before the defender, don’t know it’s a bit blurry – but just before that there’s a 2 metre forward pass. Don’t worry, ignore that. Let’s focus on the blurry contest for possession.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 1:33pm
      MAX said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

      Hi Mr X,

      By not policing the forward pass to the fullest extent with the technology available
      we are in fact condoning the forward passes that miss detection.

      When technology is developed with laser lines across the width of the field to make
      the infringement instantly detectable and immediately acted upon we should all be
      happy. Until then lets make better use of the Bunker. Getting it right is the most
      important aspect of this issue even if it takes some time to do so.

      Either that or legalise the forward pass. That would be fun to watch.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 1:46pm
        Mr X said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

        It certainly is very complicated because of how many variables need to be considered. Perhaps they could trial it in the lower grades to see how it goes. I do recall it being used in the Super League and failing though.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 8:07pm
        Mushi said | March 20th 2017 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

        But Max, laser lines won’t help given the rule is about out of the hands.

        A chip in the ball would help, if the ball accelerates forward as it leaves the hand it would get picked up.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 9:01pm
          MAX said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:01pm | ! Report

          Hi Mushi,

          I was thinking of the laser line being a guide to determine the path of the ball
          once it had left the hands, notwithstanding the current complex rules of a
          ball in certain circumstances which may have in fact travelled forward after
          the pass had left the hands but not being deemed to be forward.

          The chip in the ball combined with the laser line may then signal to control
          if indeed the pass was forward.

      • March 21st 2017 @ 9:24am
        Chook said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

        For some players like Keary, Thurston Cronk Isaac Luke to name but a few who throw a couple of forward passes per game it should be called a professional foul and treated as such

        • Roar Guru

          March 21st 2017 @ 10:37am
          Mr X said | March 21st 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          love the idea haha but cant prove that. they penalise deliberate forward passes already though.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 1:33pm
      Professor Rosseforp said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

      I think the referee(s) can rule forward pass, but are reluctant to do so.
      I’ve probably watched about 2 hours of league this season, and can honestly say that I have seen more forward passes than backward passes. I’m including in this the examples where a tackled player hands the ball forward to one of his team-mates as the team-mate runs through.
      If the referees called every forward pass in the first 10 minutes of a game, there would be fewer forward passes late in the game that changed the results.
      I assumed that the referees simply ignored the forward pass rule unless using an American football-type throw down the field.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 1:47pm
        Mr X said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

        I agree they definitely seem reluctant, particularly if the game is close.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 1:58pm
          Professor Rosseforp said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

          I think I saw one pass called forward in the past couple of weeks, and I nearly had a heart attack from the shock. It was no different to dozens of others that weren’t called.
          They are reluctant to ever call any pass forward, no matter how blatant.
          It’s a rule of the game to pass the ball backwards (or that lovely term “fairly parallel”), but is put aside for the notion of “keep the game flowing”, which last time I looked, wasn’t a rule.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 1:39pm
      The Barry said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

      Too much uncertainty. Too many passes in a movement to have to check. On field refs need to call it, the odd one will get through but it’s swings and roundabouts.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 1:47pm
        KingCowboy said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

        agree 100%, they tried it a few years back and it was a disaster. In life you win some, you lose some. Need to accept it and move on!

        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2017 @ 1:48pm
          Mr X said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

          Yep agreed. In the end the bad calls seem to swing around eventually and effect every team.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 20th 2017 @ 1:51pm
      up in the north said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

      It’d be great if the bunker could be used, but the time issues would cruel it.
      The two ref’s and two linesmen ought to be enough to police this blight, unfortunately the will doesn’t seem to be there.
      Just for fun I keep track of the number of times the foot does not come into contact with the ball during play the balls. Wasn’t that going to be the crackdown of choice at one stage too.
      It will just be another lame excuse next week.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 2:00pm
        Professor Rosseforp said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

        Agreed — if you also add the number of obstructions — sorry, running the dummy — and started enforcing forward pass penalties, and play-the-ball penalties, the game would start to look very different.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 2:12pm
        Magnus M. Østergaard said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

        It actually doesn’t have too. The attempt needs to be there. So if you just get up and roll the ball through without attempting with your foot its a penalty.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 20th 2017 @ 2:28pm
          up in the north said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

          That’s not right. The ball has to be rolled back by the foot. Not placing it on the ground and stepping over it.

          Admittedly it’s a minor gripe in the scheme of things, the big changes in dealing with head contact, shoulder charges and shepherding are more important than ruck infringements. It’s just annoying they can’t get a simple thing right on a consistent basis.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 2:52pm
        Mr X said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

        That’s a good point UITN, they can be very lenient on the play the ball.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 2:01pm
      terrence said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

      With the amount of camera angles we have at each game, why not? The old issue of camera angles being the primary reason for not using the footage is declining. The bunker will get more forward pass calls right than the refs and touchys seem to.

      Though I’d like to see the touchy’s make a few early calls on this.

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