It’s time to change bunker rule: Fittler


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    Rugby League legends Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns have called for the NRL to abolish the requirement for referees to make live calls before sending tries to the bunker.

    Just a day after Manly’s controversial 22-10 elimination final loss to Penrith, Fittler and Johns both argued in some instances the bunker should be free to make decisions without having to give the benefit-of-the-doubt to on-field referee calls.

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    Manly coach Trent Barrett was left fuming following Saturday night’s loss at Allianz Stadium, when with scores locked at 10-10, Penrith centre Tyrone Peachey was ruled to not have knocked a ball on in the lead up to a try with six minutes remaining.

    After the on-field call was sent up as a try, the bunker was unable to find conclusive evidence of whether the ball brushed Peachey’s hand as it rebounded between his chest and leg before he dived on it to score.

    And Johns said the system had to change.

    “I think that’s flawed,” Johns told Nine Network’s Sunday Footy Show.

    “(The referee) doesn’t know whether it’s a try or no try.”

    Fittler also called for a similar rule in non-discretionary calls, which involved offsides, handling errors and line-ball calls.

    “For black-and-white tries, they should go to the bunker, and then the bunker makes a decision without the influence of what the referee thinks.”

    Barrett lashed out at the officials after the game, and requested referees boss Tony Archer enter his dressing rooms to explain the decision to his players.

    Archer later defended the bunker’s decision not to overturn the on-field decision of try on a social media video.

    Barrett also took exception to a decision to overturn a Dylan Walker try, after he was ruled to be offside early in the second half.

    Meanwhile Johns took issue with the bunker’s use of slow-motion replays to overturn Manly winger Akuila Uate’ try midway through the second half.

    “In normal speed, it’s a try. But then we look at super slow-mo, it’s a 50-50,” he said

    “But the game isn’t officiated in super slow-mo.”

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    The Crowd Says (29)

    • September 10th 2017 @ 4:05pm
      Peter said | September 10th 2017 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

      Apparently the referees only made bad decisions that went against the Silvertails. You can understand their coach looking for reasons for the loss, other than he and his team not being good enough. The GOAT, though, I would gave expected to be a little more evenhanded…

      • September 10th 2017 @ 6:36pm
        Wild Eagle said | September 10th 2017 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

        Are you saying that that poor bunker decisions never cost any team any game Peter? It only ever comes down to the players. Refs mistakes never determine the result in close games?

        Plenty of even handed comments going around including the GOAT but you don’t make the grade. Apparently losing coaches never tell the truth.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 8:06am
          mushi said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

          I’d hazard a guess that the 1,000+ decisions made by each side would have more bearing…

        • September 11th 2017 @ 4:55pm
          Tingo Tango said | September 11th 2017 @ 4:55pm | ! Report


          The ref’s get calls wrong as do players make the wrong decision.

          The issue is whether or not they are the only factor and what weight should be placed on their decisions over how the players performed.

          When was the last time you saw a coach go into a after game press talk and single out a player who stuffed up? Let me count – NIL.

          For me the bagging of the refs in most cases is simply a cheap shot to deflect from a poor team and in many cases coaching performance.

          • September 11th 2017 @ 6:47pm
            Wild Eagle said | September 11th 2017 @ 6:47pm | ! Report


            We all know that players mistakes influence the result , I don’t see why people keep on stating the obvious as if some of us are dim.

            Most times a team loses the coach doesn’t mention the refs at all.

            Would you as a coach humiliate your players straight after a loss on TV? When asked I have heard many coaches say that the team as a whole needs to get better. It is obvious why coaches rarely single out players and is just as obvious why they would try to criticise the refs. The denial by Greenburg just makes coaches angrier.

            Do you not think that the coach highlights the players mistakes during the week? He is on the side of the players not the ref.

            If you think Barrett is a cheap shot merchant then you have no idea. Clearly he was distraught because he feels he was duded.

            I agree that James Maloney should be penalised and binned for impeding a chaser. I also could imagine the coach wondering why Darius Boyd and the rest did far worse repeatedly in Origin 2 and not even a penalty.
            The build up of frustration is very understandable.

            Forget about linking player mistakes to refs mistakes , they are unrelated. The coach can work on player mistakes but is powerless to do anything about a loss which is inspired by a ref.

            Admit mistakes and the ramifications and try to fix them.

            Are you saying a very angry JT had no point when he felt very strongly that he been duded by wrong calls in a couple of finals games? I think he was hard done by and respect his right to say so.

            • September 11th 2017 @ 8:15pm
              TingoTango said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:15pm | ! Report


              My satire obviously has you confused. Of course no coach will humiliate a player after a game but he is quick to do it to an official. If the same comments were made in a work place they would be considered harassment. It is gutless as the ref can not defend himself while the coach can say what he likes.

              The point about mistakes whether it is a ref or player is that we are all human beings and as such prone to such things. A loss “inspired” by a ref is suggesting he is cheating which in itself is a pretty low comment if this is what you meant.

              I am not saying that a coach or player can not have a go at a referee but when they do it needs to be done on a constructive basis. The carry on with some of the points made by them, Flanagan in particular made him look stupid. Barrett needs to grow up as the ref made a call and it was backed by a video review. The fact he does not like is not going to change the result. But let me guess you are a Manly fan right.

              Finally if you think the ref’s genuinely need help why don’t you go and sign up next year and show us how easy it is.No doubt you will be a raging success and be celebrated throughout the NRL as our savior. Too hard for you – thought so.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 6:48pm
        Mark Howard said | September 11th 2017 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

        so many close calls ,
        May as well get rid of the bunker and video referee – just use 2 in goal referees .One at each end

        Speed up the game !

    • September 10th 2017 @ 6:49pm
      Lovey said | September 10th 2017 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

      Barrett can fume all he likes, but if the on field ref is to have no say, does he believe the bunker would have ruled knock-on? Personally, I don’t think it touched his hand, but anyway unless we go back to benefit of doubt – even that, if it is to the attacking side as it was – the decision is the same.

      It seems we go around in circles on this.

      But what annoys me about 9 commentators, Gould in particular, is they talk down the game. I guess they figure any controversy is good. This is another example.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 7:14pm
        Dan said | September 10th 2017 @ 7:14pm | ! Report

        Exactly right.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 7:43pm
        Wild Eagle said | September 10th 2017 @ 7:43pm | ! Report

        The decision could be different if the ref isn’t obliged to give an opinion. Point Barrett is making is that if that goes to the bunker untainted by the ref then you stand a fair chance of it entering the realm of 50/50 which is how many see it.

        The three bunker decisions all went to the Panthers. I saw one of the Panthers players admitting he wouldn’t be happy if he was in Manlys shoes re this decision. It remains the case that Walker’s call was incorrect and the other two could have gone either way. Out of this Barrett gets nothing and it is not fair.

        Fair enough if posters don’t care about it but it doesn’t change the reality.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 8:11am
          mushi said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:11am | ! Report

          There is rarely ever something as a pure 50/50 as we all see things very differently which means we think it is cut and dried. Every review system has some sort of benefit of the doubt premise because otherwise you are putting the bunker in an impossible spot where they can’t use instinct or feel for the game but have to make all based on repeated viewing of inconclusive evidence.

          Besides imagine how fragile your life would be if you didn’t have a ready made scape goat for your team’s woes.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 4:59pm
          Tingo Tango said | September 11th 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report


          They had that process years ago and then Keiren Foran knocked a ball on (in a semi final) and the bunker made the wrong call even though the refs did not really agree.

          For me it should the ref should make a decision and if the captain wants to challenge it then take it to the bunker.

          Too much time wasting on decisions that should be done very quickly.

          • September 11th 2017 @ 6:09pm
            Wild Eagle said | September 11th 2017 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

            Captains call is essential in my opinion as is bunker ruling on forward passes.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 8:25pm
        ferret said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:25pm | ! Report

        Yep, Gus et al are big obstacles for rugby league. Gus is ALWAYS right and bangs on and on about it.

    • Roar Rookie

      September 11th 2017 @ 8:41am
      Dogs Boddy said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      What ever happened to abiding by the refs decision??

      We are getting to a stage where we will see the kind of disgusting behaviour displayed by soccer players towards the officials coming into our game. It’s already creeping in and needs to be stopped now.

      Yes the bunker is flawed, it’s manned by people what did you expect. Personally I think the current system is working fine, the ref makes a call as he should, and the bunker either backs up or overrules that call. What is wrong with that?? What is it people want?? Nothing is going to make officiating 100% correct.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 4:30pm
        Albo said | September 11th 2017 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

        I’m with you Dogs ! I really can’t see how you can get the adjudication system much better than it is now whilst ever we have humans involved. Fixing one aspect at the detriment of another, seems to be the Fittler / Johns solution ? There will continue to be some controversy from time to time . We just have to accept that some rulings, due to lack of clear evidence ( ie blocked camera angles, blocked refs view, etc) will fall into the 50/50 realm. In this regard you will win some and lose some calls. My only real beef is where the officials ignore the processes that are now in place to avoid making errors. Like not sending that first Storm try against the Eels to the bunker for confirmation of the on-field ref’s personal view that a Parra touch had made the ball go two metres forward not the Storm passer. There would not be the controversy if this was looked at more closely by the bunker which is part of the process.

    • Roar Guru

      September 11th 2017 @ 8:52am
      The Barry said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

      What difference does the ref not making an in field call really make?

      Say the refs send the Peachey try upstairs and say “didn’t see it, no idea” and the bunker reviews it. There was not one shot that definitively showed whether Peachey touched it or not. So the bunker has to make a call which will be howled down by either set of fans.

      If there was evidence there it would have been over ruled.

      So it’s all well and good saying can the on field decision. But what do we do in these instances where there is no replay that provides the answer? The bunker makes a best guess based on unavailable information – how is that better for the game?

      Also we’re only guessing that the refs had no idea. They might have been 90% sure it was a fair try and just going upstairs to check.

      But even if we allow that the ref has no idea and the footage is inconclusive what then? Someone has to make a decision. Award the try and Manly fans are filthy. Disallow it fir a knock on that no one saw and Panthers fans are spewing. Can you imagine the outrage if refs are able to call “no decision possible”.

      Going to the video ref in the first instance is a slippery slope.

      The Peachey try was impossible to adjudicate. There’s no definitive right or wrong or black and white. Everyone will have an opinion but no one knows. There’s no system that can deal with it because it’s completely subjective. There comes a point where you have to accept the referees interpretation and get on with it.

      Also Fittler and Johns are clowns.

      Fittler: “For black-and-white tries, they should go to the bunker, and then the bunker makes a decision without the influence of what the referee thinks.” There’s so much wrong with that statement. Who decides if it’s a black and white try? If it’s black and white why do you need a bunker ruling? Isn’t it the grey that we’re worried about?

      As for Johns – the Uate knock on was just about the clearest knock on I’ve ever seen. The ball touched his hand, there was clear air between him and the ball, then the ball hit the ground and Uate landed on it. Clear as day. He’s effectively saying don’t watch replays to award tries? But the replay got 100% the correct decision.

      So if “experts” can’t work it out, what hope do refs have?

      • September 11th 2017 @ 9:30am
        MIke said | September 11th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        It doesn’t matter what happened in that game now as it is done and dusted, but for the future; If the ref does not know he does not know, simple as that. If the camera angles cannot show conclusive evidence and there is doubt it is not a try, simple as that.

        Better still let the ref watch the video on the big screen and make a decision. It works for the NFL in the USA, why not in the NRL?

        • Roar Guru

          September 11th 2017 @ 10:40am
          Nat said | September 11th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

          We’ve had that and the same outcome ‘benefit of the doubt’ was scrapped. Then the rule was changed to have an on-field call because generally the ref/s are standing right there. The video ref is still a ref and he sits 1ft from the screen. So why have the on-field ref try peer into a small NFL-style screen, whilst being hounded from the crowd? If they review after calling it as a try, unless it is dead obvious (like Uate) the decision remains the same.

        • Roar Guru

          September 11th 2017 @ 12:17pm
          Adam said | September 11th 2017 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

          They use the big screen in Super Rugby and I recall a try being awarded to Fiji during the World Cup and Nigel Owens overruling himself when he saw the replay on the big screen.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 12:02pm
        Steve said | September 11th 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

        The Barry………

        Fittler and Johns were indeed expert payers but not so sure about expert commentators.

    • September 11th 2017 @ 10:43am
      david said | September 11th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

      I followed this game as being honest with highest integrity the bunker is mathematical computable decision process made but human flaws it has made more mistakes that logic allows.

      stop this madness go back to fair system

    • September 11th 2017 @ 11:55am
      theHunter said | September 11th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

      If the ref isn’t sure, he shouldn’t make a decision on field. What he can do is refer it to the bunker and than he can have a chance to see the replays too so if the bunker can’t make a decision and decides to give it a refs decision, the ref can now make a decision after looking at the ‘evidence’ himself.

      If everybody else can see the video, the ref surely can and from that he can deduce a decision too instead of guessing a decision and than later upon looking at the big screen he has a different opinion but its too late he can’t overturn his ruling and the bunker without sufficient evidence follows suit and there is controversy.

      I mean what’s wrong with a ref making a decision from reviewing the video himself?

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