A 50-50 call that goes against your team isn’t a ‘howler’, it’s footy

Adam Roar Guru

By Adam, Adam is a Roar Guru

 , , ,

33 Have your say

    What a weekend of games we had. All of the matches were not decided until the final minutes and offered great theatre.

    Some games were more skilful than others and all teams ventured to play high energy up-tempo style of football.

    Yet, for all the positives that should be coming out this morning we are subject to the ramblings of coaches, players and indeed fans who claim that their team only lost because of the referees and the bunker.

    As a huge sports fan this really grates on me, mainly because it is so far removed from reality. The Sharks were underwhelming and many of the decisions pointed out in Shane Flannigan’s NRL referee white papers were correct.

    The James Maloney sinbinning was a brain fade by his five-eighth was the culmination of a number of penalties inside the red-zone committed by the Sharks in the half and a blatant professional foul.

    The NRL gave a directive at the beginning of the season to crackdown on professional fouls and this was therefore correctly adjudicated.

    The Fifita knock on is another example of referees calling knock ons consistently. I don’t like the fact that they call anything dropped a knock on, but them’s the breaks.

    We have coaches ask for consistency on a weekly basis, but then we get consistency on the calls and coaches suddenly have a case of amnesia and they forget what they have been calling for all along?

    As NRL fans we need to understand that a howler is not a 50-50 call that does not go the way of our team. Sure it might hurt but it is hardly earth shattering that a 50-50 call has to go one way or another.

    If it does not go our way do we pack up our toys and go home?

    James Maloney Crounlla Sharks NRL Rugby League 2017

    (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

    For the sake of a quick, watchable game, the bunker needs to make a decision in a timely manner – of course, while trying to ensure the accuracy of the decision. The need for speed is the reasoning behind the referee making an on-field decision. It provides the bunker with a framework in which they will work in. If the decision on the field cannot be definitively overturned then the decision stands.

    The role of the bunker is not offer forensic evidence in fans’ kangaroo court.

    The need for a quick decision has been driven by fans. There is a real desire for the game to be a quick game as it adds to the spectacle. This, in turn, drives the need to reduce the time in which it takes for a video referee to form a decision.

    The NRL could provide an edict next year requiring all decisions to be as near on perfect as possible with no time limit on the time it takes to make a decision, but where does that leave us? More than likely this will leave us with a protracted process that will still leave fans unhappy as they try to pinpoint a reason not to award a try against their team or vice versa.

    In other words, there will be little to no improvement in the outcomes.

    Lastly, I would like to make a point about a not quite related point that really needs to be addressed. I understand that a game is a highly charged environment but there is no excuse to yell and intimidate the referees. This happens in nearly every game and is seriously a bad look.

    Luke Brooks, Corey Norman and Tom Trbojevic were particularly guilty of over the weekend but I could point the fingers at players from all eight teams. Are we going down the rabbit hole where we show the new generation of players that remonstrating, physically intimidating and verbally abusing referees is OK?

    It is probably too late in the season to clamp down on it, but I believe that it needs to be cleaned up next year.

    Good luck to all the fans of teams still in the race this weekend and remember, if you see a 50-50 call go against you this weekend, it’s not a howler, it’s football.

    Do you find yourself logged out of The Roar?
    We have just switched over to a secure site (https). This means you will need to log-in afresh. If you need help with recovering your password, please get in contact.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (33)

    • Roar Guru

      September 12th 2017 @ 6:21am
      The Barry said | September 12th 2017 @ 6:21am | ! Report

      Good on you Adam.

      This will light a fire but I couldn’t agree more. I watched all four games as a neutral fan. I thought it was great footy by all involved and a brilliant start to the semis.

      But all the refs faulting ruins it to a degree. It’s childish and reeks of bad sportsmanship.

      There were a few decisions I didn’t agree with but there were no howlers. All of the calls over the weekend from the Scott and Radradra passes to the Peachey knock on, the Fifita knock on could have gone either way and been a reasonable decision.

      The worst part is you get for example Sharks fans saying “that’s the worst refereeing ever. We were robbed”.

      Then you ask hang on “wasn’t your first try from a 50/50 call” and “didn’t your second try come directly from a strip penalty awarded against the Cowboys on the 5th tackle, 25 metres out from the Sharks line when the Cowboys defence had been absolutely serving it to the Sharks and Leuatele dropped it cold?”

      …and it all goes quiet.

      Eels fans blow up about Scotts forward pass, ignore Radradra’s. Blow up about Alvaro’s flop penalty, ignore Harris’ that led to Munster being binned and the Eels scoring two tries while he was off.

      So fans blow up at every 50/50 that goes against them as evidence of a refereeing crisis or a conspiracy and completely ignore the 50/50 calls that go their way. It’s pathetic.

      Then you get the Uate knock on. He 100% knocked the ball on, no question. He touched the ball with his hands, there was separation, it hit the ground, he landed on top of it. Yet this somehow gets thrown in the mix of questionable decisions that went against the Eagles. It’s BS.

      Almost worst of all are the conspiracy theories. The same people that say the NRL couldn’t rig a chook raffle have them orchestrating these complex scams to ensure certain teams play at home, while others miss out. Never much detail on why though.

      Refs faulting is a choice. You can accept a loss graciously or you can act like a spoiled brat and carry on.

      There’s certainly issues with the way the game is refereed but they are more systemic than personnel related.

      The refereeing was fine on the weekend. No one was robbed.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 8:10am
        Jimmmy said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:10am | ! Report

        On the money as usual TB . The hyperbole around the Refs is ludicrous.
        I watched the controversial decisions again yesterday . On field I thought every call was reasonable if you take into account the 50 / 50 nature of a lot of them.
        As for the bunker ? I thought there was enough evidence to overturn the onfield decision of the first Cronulla try.
        Live I thought Winterstein failed to ground it and said so on the Roar I was happy to see it given. You who have better eyes than me said he regrounded it. On replay you can see he did so. This was such a fine margin I can live with it and strangely this incorrect decision in the Sharks favour was not brought up by Flanagan.
        Really the only controversial decision for mine was the Walker offside . Called OK by the Ref I could not overturn it on the video evidence. I do think he was offside . That’s my gut instinct but really I didn’t think you could overturn the onfield decision.
        Bottom line ,the better teams won every game on the weekend. Isn’t that what we want.?

        • Roar Guru

          September 12th 2017 @ 8:40am
          The Barry said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:40am | ! Report

          Agreed. I said in the Manly game blog that the Walker decision was dubious. I couldn’t see enough evidence to overturn the original decision so I think Manly were a bit stiff there. Having said that the bunker may have had vision that wasn’t shown on the broadcast.

          The only other questionable decision was the one that went against the Cowboys (so I’m sure you’ll agree ?).

          Second half, the Cows kicked deep and tackled Holmes on his goal line. Cowboys were flying up in defence and by the third tackle Cronulla had only made it to the ten. Strong runs from Beale (I think) and Leutele got the Sharks to about the 30 on the fifth. Great defensive set from the Cows. Leutele got up and dropped the ball cold. Penalty Sharks.

          In normal play maybe a 50/50 but the decision showed little game awareness from the refs. As if the Cowboys would have been playing at the ball in that situation. Bird scored a (converted) try off the next set of six to put the Sharks eight in front. Funnily enough that game critical decision didn’t make it onto Flanagan’s list.

          • September 12th 2017 @ 1:04pm
            Oingo Boingo said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

            I don’t think they should be putting coaches on the stand until at least a day or two after the game , in fact I’m not sure there is any real value in these PC,s at all .
            Secondly the 50/50,s are always going to be part of the game , that just can’t be changed .
            Coaches whining and fans agreeing on here just validates others to echo the complaints.
            But I do think there is a need for the refs to adjudicate the rules .
            Hayne kicked off from the Roosters side of half way a couple of weeks ago and it went unchecked by the refs , he then did a line drop out from the field of play and that also went unchecked , in my way of thinking that’s about as stupid as it gets.
            If the basics are left unaddressed the game will continue to deteriorate in other areas , and before long it will be irreversible.

            • Roar Guru

              September 12th 2017 @ 5:13pm
              The Barry said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

              I agree with that about reffing to the rules. I think the game is overdue for the refs to tighten the rules. I think fans are ready for it and as long as it was done reasonably consistently most of us would be on board.

              I don’t want to sound like I’m the refs number one fan – there are issues with how the games officiated. It’s the poor me I was robbed attitude I can’t stand.

              And to be honest I don’t even mind that too much but when a Flanagan sits there with his list blaming the refs for the loss, ignoring the two tries his team scored from 50/50 calls and their 30-odd missed tackles and who knows how many errors…it’s all too much

              I’ve never watched a game of footy with mates where we’ve all agreed on every referees decision. Every week on the blogs here there are extremely knowledgeable people debating rules and interpretations. Surely that makes people realise that it’s impossible for refs to get every decision “right” because none of us can agree on what right actually is!

              • September 12th 2017 @ 8:23pm
                Oingo Boingo said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:23pm | ! Report

                To me it’s like parents that let there kids get away with little things when they’re little , thinking it doesn’t really matter , (“it’s just please and thank you ” ) , but by the time they’re grown up they’re just another assshole in the crowd .
                The NRL are letting the little things go by the wayside and are oblivious to the long term ramifications.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 6:48am
        Duncan Smith said | September 13th 2017 @ 6:48am | ! Report

        The Barry, you have really nailed it this time on the “thought processes” of losing football fans. Could not agree more with what you have said here.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 6:30am
      Chris Love said | September 12th 2017 @ 6:30am | ! Report

      I disagree TB. The Fifita knock on was an atrocious call, no way in the world is that a 50/50 and while the first Melbourne try may have been neautralised by the Eel pass it doesn’t account for the Cronk/Glasby shocker at the start of the 11 pass try. The point is just because poor decisions went both ways doesn’t negate the fact that the refereeing this year has been atrocious and is still far below what we should expect in finals footy.

      • Roar Guru

        September 12th 2017 @ 7:16am
        The Barry said | September 12th 2017 @ 7:16am | ! Report

        I’ve seen things like Fifita’s called knock ons for years. There was one a few weeks ago called against Josh Morris in a Bulldogs v Broncos game. Maybe it’s not a 50/50, maybe it’s a 60/40 or whatever but it’s not a howler. But even if we accept it’s 100% wrong, it’s a missed knock on. That’s it.

        “the first Melbourne try may have been neautralised by the Eel pass it doesn’t account for the Cronk/Glasby shocker at the start of the 11 pass try”

        That’s not the point I’m making at all. My point is that fans howl at any decision that goes against them and ignore the ones that go their way.

        I’m not suggesting there’s some Karmic scorecard where an error is ok as long as it’s neutralised. I’m saying these are 50/50 calls made during the course of a game on the run. Sometimes you’ll get one each, sometimes the other team will get a few and you’ll get none but of itself doesn’t mean the refs are incompetent or corrupt as everyone leaps to.

        I’m also not trying to suggest that the refs are perfect. They make mistakes. They always have. But there used to be a culture of accept the decision and get on with it. That just doesn’t exist any more. Now it’s argue the decision, sulk, write it on a list, sulk some more. I just don’t respect it at all. It makes my skin crawl.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 8:52am
        Jimmmy said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        Been called a knock on forever.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 8:54pm
          Lovey said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:54pm | ! Report

          Yes, the fact that it went between his legs might influence people. If he had fumbled like this fielding a ball in front of him, at the play-the-ball for eg, it is always classed a knock on. The later travel of the ball is (or al least has been) immaterial.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 8:56am
        Junior Coach said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

        37 missed tackles by the Sharks? thats not atrocious reffing thats poor defence

    • September 12th 2017 @ 7:55am
      Geoff said | September 12th 2017 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      Nah, there’s been a problem with officiating in League for quite a while now and this kind of smokescreen argument does nothing for a tournament that desperately needs to tidy up this aspect of its performance.

      Every season there are so many ridiculous, potentially game changing decisions being made and ignoring the avalanche while making a case for a handful of 50-50’s isn’t really helpful.

      Focus on the actual issue (which is the standard of clear, articulate decision making by referees and off field officials) and attempt to suggest solutions.

      That should be what the sports writers of Australia should be doing rather than this ludicrous, attention shifting, excuse making nonsense.

      • Roar Guru

        September 12th 2017 @ 8:09am
        The Barry said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:09am | ! Report

        Interesting points Geoff, but I come at it from a different angle.

        The 50/50s are the avalanche and the poor, ridiculous decisions are by far the minority. There were no ridiculous decisions on the weekend to create this storm – just 50/50 decisions.

        “Focus on the actual issue (which is the standard of clear, articulate decision making by referees and off field officials) and attempt to suggest solutions” I think that’s as well articulated as anything I’ve read.

        But I think the “ludicrous, attention shifting, excuse making nonsense” actually comes from the petulant coaches, the salty refs faulters and wild conspiracy theorists. They’re the ones hijacking any meaningful discussion about referees performance and systems, not people calling for a rational, objective response and review as opposed to knee jerk fanboy reactions.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 4:17pm
          theHunter said | September 12th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

          TB, I understand your point very clearly but what I dislike about Peachey’s try and its supposed 50/50 call is that the on field refs decision decides the outcome of the 50/50 and it no longer is 50/50 because once he says try to a 50/50 call the scale tips to 80/20 and that is not fair at all.

          If the ref just sends it to the bunker and if it is 50/50 than at least he should take a peek at the replays too before deciding his on field decision, should the bunker refer to it as a “Refs call”.

          You will notice at times that before sending it to the bunker the on-field ref has a puzzled face and that means he is confused but makes one due to the rules and that affects the 50/50 notion.

          If he ain’t sure than, why not just make it clear to the bunker. Guessing on a 50/50 call is the problem here coz I’m sure he had no idea whether it brushed Peachy’s arm or not but his on field decision tipped it to the attacking team’s advantage and there’s nothing 50/50 about that.

          • Roar Guru

            September 12th 2017 @ 5:25pm
            The Barry said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

            I understand where you’re coming from but I don’t have a problem with the onfield ref making a call.

            In fact I think Peachey’s try is an argument for why they should. What happens if the ref says “I don’t know” and sends it upstairs and then the bunker says “I don’t know” because the video is inconclusive.

            We had this a few years ago where the refs wouldn’t make a call and they’d send it upstairs and the bunker would come back with a “refs call” and the ref would make a decision. It was awful and we all begged for it to end.

            Some people have said “if you can’t prove it’s a try, then it shouldn’t be a try” which is ok for groundings or sideline calls and things like that, but with this one are we really going to call it a knock on when there’s no footage of him knocking the ball on? Do we call it a knock on because we can’t prove he didn’t knock it on? It seems silly and back to front to me.

            I don’t know if I’ve articulated that clearly or not…

            I also think this idea of “refs are only guessing” is over stated.

            • Roar Rookie

              September 12th 2017 @ 5:36pm
              Matthew Pearce said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:36pm | ! Report

              Maybe it should just be that the ref isn’t required to make a call, but is still able to if he wants to/feels he should? There have been possible tries sent up where you sometimes wonder how the ref’s made the call that he has, although that is a very good point regarding Peachey’s try.

              As for the bunker, I know most people hated it, but personally I didn’t have that much of an issue with “benefit of the doubt”. The person behind the bunker is still human, he’s not going to be 100% or even 75% certain on some calls. Personally I feel “I’m not entirely sure but I think it’s this” is a bit easier to accept than “I have to call this because the ref said it was”. Hopefully it also eliminates the problem where the bunker seems to be mandated to search for whatever it can to overrule rather than just analyse (though I get that that’s also personal perspective).

              • Roar Guru

                September 12th 2017 @ 8:22pm
                The Barry said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:22pm | ! Report

                Hey Matt

                All good ideas, but really your ideas, mine, everyone’s are just juggling the system a bit.

                Even experts can watch the same incident and come up with different rulings. These aren’t once a season occurrences either, it happens multiple times a game. Until we move away from this “refs cost us the game” nonsense it won’t matter what system is in place.

                Calls go our way, calls go against us.

              • Roar Rookie

                September 12th 2017 @ 11:35pm
                Matthew Pearce said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:35pm | ! Report

                True enough, but perhaps if the system is juggled enough we’ll eventually find the right combination of tiny tweaks that makes everyone mostly happy.

                Spot on with the ref blaming culture as well, the sooner that’s eradicated from the game the better.

            • September 13th 2017 @ 8:04am
              theHunter said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

              As I stated above, I do not mind the on field ref making a decision but I do mind when he guesses a decision.

              If the on field ref doesn’t know, he should send it up and then he should be allowed to at least take a peek at the replay so if the Bunker can’t come up with a decision, the on-field ref can now make a calculated decision after viewing the same evidence that everyone is looking at.

              You stated that there is no evidence of the ball touching Peachey’s arm but what if he made the ‘no try’ call? It would have been a guess and then what?

              All I’m saying is that the on-field decisions shouldn’t be guesses and they should be given the chance to say “I don’t know, and I need to take a look too”. What is wrong with that? We force them to follow the rules and than blast them as soon as one goes bad. Thus, they should indicate to the bunker they aren’t sure and should the bunker decide to send it back to the ref than at least the ref is not guessing and has viewed the same evidence to come up with a decision. They may still get it wrong, but at least we know now, he isn’t guessing

    • Roar Rookie

      September 12th 2017 @ 7:58am
      Chris Charlton said | September 12th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      Sadly this is a common occurence.The fans of a team who lose almost always blame the poor refereeing. It’s common practice in this day and age. Interestingly, the first of Corey Oates’ tries was a knock-on, plain as day, but we don’t hear about it. Yet I could argue that if Latrell Mitchell didn’t score that Inglis-like try, then the Roosters’ fans would be up in arms about that call costing them the game.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 2:03pm
        Roberto said | September 12th 2017 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

        He had downward pressure before ball squeezed out, clear as day – you need to remove the bias in your judgement on the Oates try.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 9:32am
      Jay C said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

      Luke Brooks played over the weekend? Must’ve missed that game.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 9:51am
      DD said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

      Like most people I am also guilty at times of feeling like the referees are against my beloved broncos, but I think that is ok when it is just part of the emotional response during a game to your team’s performance, and quickly dissipates after the game is over. However, for a professional coach to front up to the media after a game and then to behave in the manner that Shane Flanagan did, is quite frankly a disgrace and very unprofessional. I think it is disrespectful to the game which has given him a good living (and which I sure he loves), and I think it reflects poorly on both himself, his players and his club. Of course he is emotional and disappointed that the season is over for Cronulla, but does he really think the referees cost Cronulla their chance to defend their premiership title. All year, they have been ill-disciplined, giving away penalties and dropping the ball, so to blame a couple of 50-50 calls for ending their season is delusional. One of the core beliefs of a sport like rugby league is respect for yourselves, the officials, the supporters and your opposition. I think a few coaches on the weekend let themselves down a little and well done to Greenberg for calling this for what it is, an emotional outburst that is damaging to the game and needs to be clamped down on. Someone should ask Flanagan or Barrett if they would be happy to see kids blow up at the referees like they did after a game.

    , , ,