The referees had another shocker in Saturday night’s Eels – Dragons game. This is not understatement, but an indictment of current NRL refereeing.
Raise your hand if you’re sick and tired of the video ref? Me too. Once upon a time, referees had conviction, and even if they made an error you respected their authority and their conviction.
Now, any time there’s a tough decision, NRL refs have an opt-out: turn to the eye in the sky and perform a move better suited to a Village People tribute than a footy game.
It’s too easy. If they wanted to, the refs could linger in back play with a few beers before shuffling over to the goal-line fray to draw a screen in the air. Tough gig.
But certainly the worst part of this decision-making process, which is about on par with the NRL scheduling the Brisbane Broncos every Friday night as if they’re the ’67 Rabbitohs, is completely undermined when it’s inconsistent.
This was never more clear than on Saturday at WIN Jubilee, when referees Jared Maxwell and Tony De Las Heras awarded an Eels try in the first five minutes, following a laborious and unnecessary video review.
Apparently whenever the ball is airborne the referees fall dumb and mute, incapable of reaching logical decisions. This is in spite of the fact that everybody else in the stadium and at home can see the transaction without doubt.
You just knew Maxwell and De Las Heras would turn to the video ref after Chris Sandow’s cross field bomb and Casey McGuire’s catch and try. You knew because in today’s NRL, there are no easy decisions – they all need to be suspense-filled. It’s more theatrical than a episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
At least there’s an obvious reason to sit through that staged drama. Well the Eels won the try, as we expected, and continued their strong performance against a lacklustre Dragons side. It was an effort deserving of the win.
But alas, the refs robbed the Eels of that chance, and there’s no point in mincing words about this, as so many media outlets tend to do. A poor decision is a poor decision. Don’t go on with how the Eels found a “new and exciting way to lose”. Call out the error and lambast the ref!
Because in the final minutes, with the Eels down by two, they were denied a penalty following a similar cross field kick to the first one which, for some reason on this occasion, didn’t prompt the officials to turn to the booth.
In a fracas more dizzying than the first, Kyle Stanley clearly took out Eels centre Ryan Morgan in pursuit of the ball. Fox Sports commentator Greg Alexander, who was certainly much further from the action than the men in pink, called the mistake before the TV replay even unfolded. How is this even possible?
Look, we can talk all week about how you can’t blame the refs and the team that deserves to win doesn’t need the officiating to be in their favour. That’s the way we always treat stuff like this around the water cooler, isn’t it? Harden up, your Dragons-loving colleagues well tell you Monday. Heaven forbid there be any justice.
The fact is, good refereeing is consistent refereeing. If you’re going to decide when to blow the whistle based purely on when a play occurs in the 80-minute period, then why are we even watching?
Let’s just play the last two minutes because at least then it’ll be a fair fight.