In just over a month you’ll be punching holes in the air as your team cross for their opening try of the season. Chances are though, your precious moment will be shattered by a needless hearing before Judge Bunker.
We’ve all been there, screaming, “Just point to the spot ref!”
Where wrestling sucks the wind from a contest, needless bunker forensics inverts your last meal like a Gennady Golovkin uppercut.
Multiple screens, angles, speeds, all underwritten by a smug overtone, “have a decision and going to the board”, that by season’s end infuriates like fingernails down a chalkboard.
Well good for you Judge Bunker, because my old man can coast a victory lap of the amenities in the time it takes you to decide what everyone already knows.
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Many of our finest moments are compromised by overcomplicating the simple.
The notion that cash, and bags of it, is the best solution is often laughable.
A good mate of mine sees it daily at the assay laboratory he runs in a remote mining town. Using shed loads of expensive machinery, his team determine the amount of gold in rock samples using methods chosen by the client. In many cases, little is gained by choosing expensive, high-end analytical techniques – yet many clients still do.
Attempts to manufacture the perfect referee are no different. A beefed up bunker doesn’t reduce errors, it simply magnifies the scale at which we adjudicate. Now, instead of footy when we argue the toss, it’s scientific jargon over split hairs invisible to the naked eye.
This is rugby league, not investigative science!
Yesterday’s howler is today’s frame-by-frame gaffe, missed by boffins less confident than Homer Simpson at the Springfield nuclear plant. To butcher a practical phrase of reason, if it looks like a try, the ref thinks it’s a try, and the fans scream like it’s a try, then it probably is a try.
Am I saying ditch the video replay? No, not at all, but let’s keep the speed and context real.
Already we’ve seen the powers of the bunker restricted, with knock-ons, 40-20s and forward passes removed from the menu. It’s acknowledgement that continuous play sells and it’s why ball-strips will never be judged from afar.
Accuracy, efficiency and consistency – the quest will never change. But taxing, microscopic re-runs are only good for an extra layer of ambiguity.
The ultimate risk-reward on doubtful try-scoring plays is rapid reviews at game pace. It will make sure the howlers are kept out and ensure the supporters stay in.