The Roar
The Roar


Referees damned if they do, damned if they don't

Roar Guru
31st March, 2011

There comes a time in each season where I take a break from my default position of bile-spitting, stomach churning hatred of referees, to one where I feel nothing but sympathy for them.

I have that charitable glow right now after a weekend where our noble whistleblowers received the sort of treatment which is normally proceeded by a shake of the head in disbelief and various mutterings about that particular person’s mental capacity.

So I can frame my current dilemma correctly, let’s step back from a moment.

It seems that ever since primitive man got up on his hind legs and started to walk around on planet Earth, there has been a school of thought that he did so in order for him to lumber over to his mates and whinge about the state of rugby league scrums.

Many a rugby fan would warm themselves with the knowledge that whilst they’d just sat through a dire exhibition of penalty goal kicking that existed only in the fringes of the social consciousness, they still had contested scrums.

And didn’t that get the punters through the gate.

Closer to home, “expert” panellists would be falling over themselves to bemoan the current scrum with the constant yapping of “what’s the point” and “in my day …”

I’ll admit, I never held much of an opinion on the scrum as a matter of national importance. It was like choosing the colour of napkins when hosting a party – it is hardly going to make a big difference in the wash up.

For the most part, my feelings on scrums were in line with the thinking of most young men on their romantic ambitions. Get in, get out.


However, seeing the hordes had presumably demanded a change, I was left thinking: well, if it shuts them up, all the better.

So you can imagine my surprise now that referees are again blowing scrum penalties, it has led to a whole new howl of protest. Honestly, it’s like enduring the condensed history of Tony Abbott’s political career.

Newcastle coach Rick Stone has declared that the new rules “will take the game backwards.”

I rather thought that was the point – to go back to when the game had contested scrums.

It was a bit of cheeky line by Rick because in the world of sports administration you are forever torn between taking the particular game back to its traditions and glory days and moving it forward to its grand new horizon.

Where was Rick to defend feeding the ball into the second row when the debate was being had?

But even worse has been the efforts of one Daley, L.

Yes, Laurie Daley was a great player, and I’m sure plenty of people will say great bloke. But for him to come out and bag referees for blowing scrum penalties with the blood curdling threat of “don’t turn us into rugby union” is a bit rich.


Daley has been one of the main offenders on moaning about scrums from his position as a Fox Sports commentator, but now the men in the middle are doing something about his gripe, he is one of the first to complain.

Referees could be permitted to ask “what’s the point?”

Daley i,s of course, the same man who applauded Chris Heighington in round one for his passion after he was sat on his backside by Jamal Idris but got up and went and gave Jamal some extras to ensure a penalty was given away.

The Bulldogs wandered down another 40 metres before starting another set.

“That’s the sort of passion you want to see,” exclaimed Daley, forgetting the overwhelming pattern in modern rugby league of penalties leading to tries.

“That’s what you want from your players.”

Anyone have any more questions about why NSW find themselves in the current state they are in?

Clearly, should we reach a later part of the season and we find ourselves no closer to any sort of solution, we may want to review this latest interpretation.


Surely after all the heart ache of its introduction, it’s worth persisting with. If anything, we may finally get an answer on whether rugby league needs the scrum.