Referees the biggest worry for finals football

Curtis Woodward Roar Guru

By Curtis Woodward, Curtis Woodward is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    The all-too common site of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves getting attention from the referees. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)

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    September has brought with it a lot of things. Father’s Day, the first day of spring and unfortunately over recent days bush fires have sprung up across New South Wales.

    But September also brings with it the pinnacle of club rugby league.

    You know that thing that all fans thirst for.

    That dream of seeing your team holding up the premiership trophy in the final game of the year.

    Yes it is finals time in the National Rugby League and only eight teams are left standing.

    But there has been a sprawling epidemic that has crept across the competition since Round 1 of season 2013. A plague that has entrenched itself in the fabric of the toughest game on the planet.

    While we sit on the cusp of the most anticipated playoffs in history one thing remains a bugbear for supporters, coaches, experts and players.

    Every week we are entranced by the athleticism and skill of the modern player.

    Yet we shake our heads and throw whatever we can at the television screens week after week wondering what is happening to our game.

    Only one thing can wreck this finals series.

    The over-officiated way games are being policed by the referees.

    Since the outlawing of the shoulder charge and the crackdown on fighting, the product has been altered dramatically. The snowball effect has been alarming to say the least.

    Everything is dangerous and everything is illegal.

    It was evident on Sunday night in the freezing cold of the nation’s capital between the Canberra Raiders and the Cronulla Sharks.

    The 5 foot 11 inch, 90 kilogram Canberra centre Jarrod Croker was penalised for supposedly striking the 6 foot 2 inch, 112 kilogram Cronulla bookend Bryce Gibbs.

    Anyone that knows anything about the game could see this was a desperate smaller man trying to release the grasp of the much bigger attacking player who had the scruff of his jersey.

    This act has been seen thousands upon thousands of times in all levels of rugby league.

    If that is a penalty one week before the finals then god help us.

    It is time the officials put away their whistles and let the players play the game.

    Media reports have confirmed that the two most penalised sides this season will go at it on Saturday night in a blockbuster match at Allianz Stadium. The Sydney Roosters (penalised 204 times in 2013) face the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (penalised 185 times).

    Are these sides ill-disciplined or are the top sides in the NRL being punished for being consistently more intense through the season than other sides?

    “Obviously we know we’re giving penalties away but obviously we’re defending it,” Sydney ace Michael Jennings told the media on Tuesday.

    “We know that what we do after the penalty is going to be reflected … in the points.

    “Really it’s just discipline that at the end of the day you’ve just got to fix.

    “We are addressing it, it’s not a big deal,” he said.

    It isn’t a big deal to Jennings or the other players.

    They are professionals and will deal with whatever happens in the spur of the moment.

    But what happens when a soft penalty costs your side a try or a penalty goal this weekend that may see your side eliminated from the race to ANZ Stadium on October sixth?

    Keep Jarrod Croker’s “strike” on Bryce Gibbs in mind.

    If that is a penalty then we are in trouble.

    These referees won’t be able to handle the intensity that is most certainly going to rise over the coming weeks.

    What happened to the brutality that can win you a game of football?

    Forget brutality.

    What happened to referees allowing a game to breathe?

    When was the last time you saw an honest to goodness arm wrestle without hearing the whistle?

    Let’s hope these officials remember their place and remember that the spectacle is the players and not them. That harnessing the image of the NRL has to be levelled with what makes our game different to all the others.

    Please gentlemen, leave your whistles at home.

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    The Crowd Says (38)

    • September 11th 2013 @ 3:10am
      des right hand said | September 11th 2013 @ 3:10am | ! Report

      Ah the refs the biggest blight on the game! So many a game ruined by these fools.. they favour certain teams too.. souths ring a bell??? Oh and they love billy, smith and inglis the diver

    • September 11th 2013 @ 4:49am
      Fran_Gipani said | September 11th 2013 @ 4:49am | ! Report

      Aye aye!!! Spot on.

    • September 11th 2013 @ 7:24am
      oikee said | September 11th 2013 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      No team can kick the ball on the last tackle and run downfield to defend that kick without being penalised by the whistlemen..
      Plus favourites, you have one pocket ref nearly living inside the ruck for one team, and the other pocket ref does not even go anywhere near the ruck. So one team is punished by having to get off the tackled player fast, the other team can hold down wrestle and set their line for as long as they like..
      The code is a complete shambles, with two refs calling out penalty penalty penalty at every tackle. It’s a complete shambles and no wonder Harvey Norman took the bolt.
      This game has not only gone soft and cant distinguish between a good shot and a high shot, but the refs are frightened to make a call, to not blow the whistle, and their best mate is the video ref.
      They cant even call a try anymore without going to video man.
      If ever their was a code that needs the captains challenge, this is the code.
      Get the captains challenge out of the under 20’s where they dont need it, and bring it into first grade before we lose more fans this year during finals and more blunders, more video refs stoppages and more mistakes killing the game for good.

      I did watch a game where the whistle had been put away and not blown, it was Leeds verse Wigan in the superleague, What a breath of fresh air it was, not a whistle to be heard, all game, i was in heaven for at least 80 minutes. Then reality struck, i had to come back to the NRL this week only to hear mr whistle men again, cant help themselves, need to blow that whistle on the second tackle, god help us all.

      • September 11th 2013 @ 12:16pm
        Sleemo said | September 11th 2013 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

        I read an article earlier in the week about the Titans-Storm game – the refs put the whistle away in the last five minutes of regular time and the extra-time period, players were five metres offside all the time as a result – do you really want to watch that?

        If players keep their discipline there are no penalties, simple as that. Why should the fact that one of the first finals matches is between the two most penalised teams in the comp be used as an example of the claim that too many penalties are blown? As mentioned, if players behave themselves, stay onside and keep their arms down in the tackle and off the ball when defending, less penalties.

        • September 11th 2013 @ 12:25pm
          oikee said | September 11th 2013 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

          Do i really want to watch that, you are asking me if i really want to watch what was one of the best games all year, the Titans Storm Golden Point game. ????


        • September 11th 2013 @ 1:37pm
          Matt said | September 11th 2013 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

          Haha, exactly. There is a difference between not blowing penalties because nothing is really going wrong, vs not blowing penalties and letting things go. Once someone face massages and gets away with it, what do you think the opposition is going to do… it just escalates up.

          • September 11th 2013 @ 2:40pm
            oikee said | September 11th 2013 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

            Matt, you said,
            “Once someone face massages and gets away with it, what do you think the opposition is going to do… it just escalates up.”. spot on, it gets tasty as our English commentary cousins in England would say, and our hearts skip a beat the tastier it gets.
            That is what we want to see, nobody cares about fans calling for penalties because joe is not back the requiored 10, just warn him,.
            Our hearts skip a beat when a player gets up and looks for revenge, and we all get excited when the refs let it flow until somebody gets hurt.
            Big deal, that is life, its all fun and games uintil somebody gets hurt, the difference being is these guys are being paid big money, yes big money to be hurt.
            If we are going to turn it into a penaltyathon, then bring in the girls netball team and lets get it on. Lingerie and g-strings attached. hehe.

    • September 11th 2013 @ 7:26am
      Pest said | September 11th 2013 @ 7:26am | ! Report

      The brutality hasn’t changed for the top clubs , nor has the inept performances of the refs, it’s not just the two ref system that’s gone mad but what about the touch judges , how many times have they missed important calls , and in many cases there centimetres away ?? This year more than ever the out come of the home and away rounds have been affected by the refs , SHAME , and if there’s gonna be a D/;$& HEAD award for certain players , there’s got to be one for refs

      • September 11th 2013 @ 9:29am
        Fran_Gipani said | September 11th 2013 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        Hahaha! A few centremeters! even half cut and squinty eyes I’ve watched matches at the pub this year on 50 inch screens and called it. While they do their ‘vogue’ screen ‘sign language’. People from opposite teams shaking their heads and AGREEING its all a bit SUS. I can’t stand a wrong decision even against whomever my team is playing. Rather win FOR REAL!
        We can all agree on this surely.

    • Roar Guru

      September 11th 2013 @ 8:40am
      Mantis said | September 11th 2013 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      Hears to hoping the Cowboys dont get done by crap refereeing…

      • September 11th 2013 @ 9:32am
        Fran_Gipani said | September 11th 2013 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        Mantis: Id love for Matty Bowen to go out on a high note for such a GOOD bloke 😉

    • September 11th 2013 @ 9:20am
      Andy said | September 11th 2013 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      The secret to good refereeing during the finals is to put the whistle away. Because people want to see the teams on the field decide the game. I do not want to see a team win by having a 10-3 penalty count their way.

      • September 11th 2013 @ 9:34am
        Fran_Gipani said | September 11th 2013 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        ‘Zactly !

      • September 11th 2013 @ 12:27pm
        The eye said | September 11th 2013 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

        No way,you win the play the ball,you win the game slowing it down MUST be pinged EVERY get pinged 10 times you deserve to lose.

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