Sorry Mary, it is the ref’s fault – just not the refs you might think

Chris Love Roar Guru

By Chris Love, Chris Love is a Roar Guru


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    In response to Mary Konstantopoulos’s article ‘In defence of referees’, I’m sorry but I have to disagree. The NRL’s lack of spectacle this season is 100 per cent referees’ fault.

    Not this year’s crop of referees necessarily though.

    I am 100 per cent supportive of the penalty crackdown, because it had to happen.

    Over the last decade or so, the refs have allowed standards to slip.

    How many years did we watch Andrew Fifita lazily step over the ball instead of rolling it with his foot? We called it out for years, but only recently has it been penalised. Guess what, Fifita no longer lazily steps over the ball!

    How many years did we complain about the Roosters intentionally giving away penalties on their own line to reset their defence and get a breather? Their whole premiership year it was talked about, but nothing was done, and every team started doing it as a result. So the refs started sin binning repeated infringements. Union has had this all over us for years.

    How many years did we complain about how the Storm’s wrestling tactics in the ruck was an ugly spectacle for the game because we want fast play the balls and a running game? There’s a good reason Cameron Smith was the most penalised player in the game this year only a few weeks back and it’s not because he’d lost discipline, it’s because he’s just now being pulled up on what he should have been getting penalised for the last decade or more. Quickly, being the rugby league genius that he is, Smith corrected his and his team’s game.

    Yes, it’s 100 per cent the fault of the refs, but not necessarily the current crop.

    They’ll cop it this year, but they’ve been protected for far too long by the NRL, so I won’t lose sleep over it. Todd Greenberg should back them to the hilt and the result will be that one team will adapt quicker than the rest, reduce penalties, and win the grand final.

    For years we’ve been looking at measures to speed the game up, allow the little men a chance, and see faster, attacking footy. But maybe we wouldn’t have needed any measures had the officials been doing their jobs and blowing penalties.

    If teams don’t mess around in the ruck, put hands on the ball, pull legs, actually get square at marker, get back the ten, and stop repeatedly infringing within the attacking zone, the game will have a fire lit underneath it and the crowds will return.

    To the current crop of referees, I say blow the pea out of the bloody thing. The game will adapt. Those who don’t will die and we will return to an even better spectacle.

    We have to go through this to get where we need to be.

    I’ll say the same thing Mary told Parramatta supporters a few weeks ago: “Trust the process”.

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    The Crowd Says (41)

    • June 12th 2018 @ 3:39am
      KenoathCarnt said | June 12th 2018 @ 3:39am | ! Report

      Can they please crack down on players stripping the ball in a tackle despite 2 or 3 players involved in the tackle. They always call it poor ball protection but that doesnt matter if a player is stripping the ball it’s a penalty!

    • June 12th 2018 @ 5:45am
      Magic Lyrebird said | June 12th 2018 @ 5:45am | ! Report

      “Measures to speed the game up”. That’s the dilemma: the NRL is trying to speed the game up by blowing penalties, which slow the game down. I’ve hated the refereeing this year (Origin and Cam Smith’s sin-binning excepted).

      I’d love to see some stats on whether we’re starting to see fewer penalties, whether play the balls are getting faster, and whether the game as a whole is getting faster – i.e. is the whistle blitz working, or is it just producing stop-start games with no flow, no fatigue factor, no opportunity for exciting attack against tired defences?

      • June 12th 2018 @ 9:04am
        Boz said | June 12th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        The effect of the game being slowed from penalties could be countered by allowing the quick tap for all penalties and allowing it to be taken even if there are attacking players in front of the mark.

    • Roar Guru

      June 12th 2018 @ 7:09am
      Dutski said | June 12th 2018 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Ah Chris. I was all riled up, expecting to read yet another tiresome whinge about how the game was better when the refs ignored the rules for the flow of the game. You have burst that bubble of expectation.
      Couldn’t agree more. There’s a weight of history to overcome, but in every other aspect of society there’s no success when the authority figure tries to be the best mate as well. So now the refs are learning to be the authority figure again.
      Keep blowing the whistle, boys. And if your team is too slow to adapt? Well… see you in 2019!

    • Roar Guru

      June 12th 2018 @ 7:11am
      BA Sports said | June 12th 2018 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      The Roosters giving away penalties on their own line in their premiership year (2013) was hardly a phenomenon. It was a tactic Warren Ryan teams employed for a decade about 30 years ago..

      And we haven’t always been looking for ways to make the game faster. Infact early 2000’s it got too fast and everyone said the game was becoming like touch football and it needed to slow down.

      Fact is people like different things and people like to complain. For example, plenty are saying Origin was a great spectacle because there was only 5 penalties. I thought it was an average game played all up the middle of the park because (in part) the outside backs were up too quickly all night cutting off the play.

      Forget the process, this is no long term strategy to this. They just have to ref what is infront of them. There is no perfect number of penalties or stoppages so stop looking fro it. You will never make everyone happy.

    • Roar Guru

      June 12th 2018 @ 7:33am
      The Barry said | June 12th 2018 @ 7:33am | ! Report

      “the result will be that one team will adapt quicker than the rest, reduce penalties, and win the grand final”

      That’s an interesting line and critical to this whole issue, unfortunately I just don’t think it’s true.

      The advantages gained by giving away cynical penalties, slowing the game down and resetting defensive lines, clearly massively outweighs the disadvantage of conceding a penalty…or numerous penalties.

      Mr X’s article at the moment shows that good teams cope easily with players in the bin….but it’s only on the fifth or sixth or whatever penalty that gets someone binned anyway. Why not concede penalties and shut down five or six scoring opportunities in a half?

      So we’re left with a game where teams are still comfortable conceding penalties and we’ve got a whistle heavy stop start bore-a-thon of a game.

      I was all on board for the crackdown too…but it’s not working and I suspect the first 14 rounds has shown that blowing heaps of penalties and heaps of sin bins is not the solution.

      I’m not sure what the solution is…it’s far tougher than any of us expected. The crackdown may have got Andrew Fifita playing the ball properly, but that’s really only an aesthetic change. The real blight on the game of teams cynically giving away penalties hasn’t been affected at all.

      • June 12th 2018 @ 12:26pm
        John said | June 12th 2018 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

        The solution would be to bin actual binnable offences with no warnings. If the teams can do okay with a man down, see how they go with 2 or 3 men down.

        The main issue with refs these days, is that they are seen to be trying to maintain the spectacle of the game, which means evening up penalty counts, giving teams penalty piggy backs to get them back into the game. They are seen more has game managers than refs.

        Refs should stick to penalising and issuing the appropriate penalties based on the offence. If the the first offence is a binnable offence, bin them, if the second and third are also binnable bin them. Don’t try to maintain a semblance of balance because of the fear having too much of an impact on the game. No warnings.

      • June 13th 2018 @ 7:22am
        Ben said | June 13th 2018 @ 7:22am | ! Report

        Agreed Barry, the penalties are hardly considered a “penalty” in the defense minds. Something needs to be done in order for the penalty to be considered to great a risk. Maybe something like if you kick a penalty goal, the ball is restarted like a drop out instead of the half way point so possession would potentially just stay 1 sided if you don’t pull in line. Unfortunately even though, it is considered a crackdown I question alot of the legitimacy of these ‘intentional’ penalties. Something that harsh would absolutely have the media naming each ref as that games mvp.
        Another thought I had was that a tally acrues for each penalty in the 20 and at the end of the game a team gets a set of 6. So if you are down by 16 at full time, you have 4 sets of 6 to even it up.

    • June 12th 2018 @ 7:35am
      peeko said | June 12th 2018 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      so its 100% the referees fault, not the coaches who have enouraged and pushed these tactics?

      • Roar Guru

        June 12th 2018 @ 12:06pm
        spruce moose said | June 12th 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

        careful peeko – that’s just a little too much truth for the ref bashers.

      • Roar Guru

        June 13th 2018 @ 8:09am
        BA Sports said | June 13th 2018 @ 8:09am | ! Report

        It depends a bit on how the ref’s and teams train. The referees train with the teams, particularly in the off season. If they are ref’ing with the same crack down approach at training, then yeah, teams and coaches fault. If they are being more relaxed in a training environment then coming out and cracking down on things in games, then it is on the ref’s – or Greenberg who keeps changing the goal posts.