The Roar
The Roar


Hey coaches, the referees didn't cost you your season

Paul Gallen of the Sharks looks dejected after fulltime during the round 25 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Sydney Roosters at Southern Cross Group Stadium on August 26, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
12th September, 2017

No team is happy when they are beaten. Every coach has their complaints with the result, especially in finals footy.

Obviously, there were some controversial decisions made in each of the games, but at the end of the day, a good team should be able to overcome any bad decisions.

There is no need for coaches to come out and blame the officials for their loss. Trent Barrett and Shane Flanagan should be hanging their heads in shame. Both their sides were outclassed and chose to place blame for their defeats on the referees and their controversial decisions.

The problem is so bad that NRL CEO Todd Greenberg had to tell the coaches to stop their bloody whinging.

Trent Barrett should be proud of what his Sea Eagles have achieved in 2017. Most pundits had Manly finishing in the bottom four but they far exceeded expectations, finishing sixth.

Their season came to an end on Saturday night via a 22-10 loss to the Penrith Panthers in a game featuring some controversial decisions by the bunker.

The first of those decisions was the overturning of a try against Dylan Walker for offside, due to him failing to have both feet behind the kicker.

The bunker call has since been backed up by referees’ boss Tony Archer as well as Greenberg and I agree with them.


Following that was the overturning of a try against Akuila Uate due to a knock-on, a seemingly obvious decision that the bunker got correct.

The third and most contentious was the awarding of a try to Tyrone Peachey when the bunker had insufficient evidence to determine whether Peachey had touched the ball with his hand.

Upon further inspection from multiple camera angles, it does appear as though the ball did not touch Peachey’s hand, and perhaps the movement of his finger was just the angle his hand was at, from that camera angle.

Like the call against Walker, this was later confirmed by Archer and Greenberg. The evidence for all three calls prove that Trent Barrett had no reason to blame the officials for the loss.

To suggest “it’s cost us our year,” is pathetic. The players should hold themselves accountable for their season coming to an end and no one else.

All signs pointed to a Cronulla Sharks’ victory on Sunday afternoon against the Cowboys. The Cowboys had only won one of their last six matches (against 15th placed Wests Tigers) and travelled down to Sydney without several big-name stars, including both co-captains and arguably the best player in the game in Johnathan Thurston.

Not only that, but the Cowboys hadn’t won at Allianz Stadium since 2010, including five finals.


Like the previous game, there were some controversial calls, such as the knock-on against Andrew Fifita, but any mistakes the referees made seemed to balance out.

Two of the biggest calls that went against the Sharks were the James Maloney sin bin and the Paul Gallen knock on. Shane Flanagan made the outrageous claim that Maloney shouldn’t have been sin binned, in spite of the obvious fact that he prevented a player from getting to the ball in a try-scoring opportunity.

Paul Gallen Cronulla Sharks NRL Rugby League Finals 2017

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

If Flanagan doesn’t think that was a professional foul, he clearly hasn’t watched any games at all this year because that has been a sin bin offence all season.

As for Gallen’s knock-on in the closing stages, it was a loose carry and he had no control over it.

Flanagan blamed these, as well as approximately half a dozen other decisions as to why the Sharks were beaten. But a look at the stats shows that the Sharks had 43 per cent of possession, completed at 60 per cent (compared to the Cowboys 80 per cent), made 17 errors to 10, missed 34 tackles to 15 and conceded 11 penalties to five This is why the Sharks lost.

It wasn’t because of any decisions made by the referees. The fact they only got beaten by one point was amazing with those stats. There was no reason for Shane Flanagan to complain. Besides, his words in 2013 were “these things happen.”


Todd Greenburg did the sensible thing on Monday. He came out in a press conference, backed his referees and told the coaches to grow up and stop their bloody whinging (not in those exact words).

Hopefully, these coaches receive the full brunt of the fines that were promised a few years ago for complaining about the referees, because the referees didn’t cost any teams their seasons.