Who’s right in the NRL referees argument?

Craig Rodgers Roar Rookie

By , Craig Rodgers is a Roar Rookie New author!

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    With all of the current conjecture of refereeing decisions and their impact on the result on the outcome of a game in rugby league I would like to offer something for spectators of the sport, and others to ponder.

    Let’s take a look at the four major football codes in Australia: rugby league, rugby union, Australian rules and the round ball, in no particular order – and hopefully an argument-diffusing title for the latter.

    In these four codes there is only one where the attacking team is guaranteed possession for a predetermined period if they are error free during this period. Rugby league.

    The shrill of the whistle has a far greater impact in this code than others. The other three codes do not play to a set. An infringement determined to be worthy of a penalty at the discretion of one of the two whistleblowers simultaneously controlling the game and enforcing whatever the governing body class as the current blight on the code as outlined in the most recent press release do have a bearing on the momentum and direction of a game. 

    The following are some examples of a penalty or free in the four codes and I am sure some will see it differently to me as more attention is paid to league which is the object of the conversation.

    Penalties or frees
    Rugby league: A chance to get off your line and relieve defensive pressure that you’ve most likely just sustained and are now combatting. A chance to be within an attacking position at the end of your set.

    Time for your team to take a breath and re-establish the pace of the game. A crack at the sticks for the two in a close game. Position. Position. Position.

    Rugby union: If you are anywhere in your attacking half take a shot at the sticks and most likely come away with three points. Lineout, scrum, tap, not guaranteed possession.

    Australian rules: Could be in the other team’s possession the moment you bring the ball back into play.

    Fussball: Could be in the other teams possession the moment you bring the ball back into play.

    Now let’s not forget why we want possession. To score more points than the other team. Scrutiny over scoring is different but integral to each code. The number of scoring opportunities of a side differ between the codes which is why such emphasis has been placed on the correct verdict on these opportunities.

    Again I am sure some will see it differently but the following has created the frustration to this piece being written.

    Scoring adjudication
    Rugby league: Was it a forward pass? Was the marker interfered with? Were the kick-chasers onside?

    If they were offside did they impact the play? Was it grounded within the in goal? Were  the defenders obstructed?

    Did the attacking player ground the ball clearly? Was he held up? Was there separation? Was it grounded with the torso or was that the sub coccles?

    If your effort of putting the ball down over the line has the ticked the correct yes, no and maybes, then congratulations, KFC’s latest promotional tool will let you know you scored a try!

    Paul Gallen Cronulla Sharks NRL Rugby League Finals 2017

    (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    Rugby union: Much less confusing due to possession never being guaranteed to be yours.

    Aussie rules: Did it go through the big ones without someone touching it? That’s a goal. Hit the big ones, that’s a point. Through the little ones on the side that’s a point. 

    Sosha: Were you onside. Yep. Ball went past the line in the goal box. Yep. That’s a goal.

    Is there a possibility that in the pursuit of increasing the speed of the game we all wanted that no consideration was given as how to referee it at this pace. I have seen articles and comments coming from Rookies, Pros and Gurus from the weekend’s finals saying that the controversial decisions are all part of the game, 5-/50 decisions, play to the whistle etc, and I find them to be quite frustrating.

    I have always believed to play to the whistle, it would help if we knew what the rules were and had confidence in them consistently being adhered to.

    Many comments on these articles have chastised Shane Flanagan for his actions having a list of gripes which has been countered by listing just as many in the Cowboys favour.

    Take the mousetrap of your finger, it got you. You just listed twice as many controversial decisions he listed and still say the game’s alright. If that is part of the product it’s wearing thin.

    Crowd numbers are down, and general interest is ambivalent.

    If it is the game you love and the grey area that comes with it is part and parcel so be it. It is a game I supported for a long time and enjoyed but the enjoyment is turning to bewilderment and frustration.

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