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Opinion

Ben Cummins is a good man and a great referee – so lay off him!

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Expert
8th October, 2019
227
4179 Reads

Lay the hell off Ben Cummins. The bloke made an honest mistake and we all need to get over it right now.

As a heart and soul Canberra Raiders supporter, I am really upset that we fell at the last hurdle.

I’m also disappointed that there were two incidents in the game that – had they not occurred – may have seen a different result. That’s fair enough. But I’ve let it go now.

In the cool light of day, it really isn’t that big a deal.

I’m disappointed for the Roosters fans that the gloss has been taken off their victory.

They are deserving premiers. They have been the team to beat all season and their performance in the decider was top notch.

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Further, the overwhelming majority of Chooks fans that I engaged with pre, during and post match were good people and graceful winners. Sure, there have been a few vile trolls, but every side has those. Mine sure does.

These fans don’t deserve to have their victory diminished, nor their celebrations muted.

It’s not right or fair. It’s not a reasonable response. Their side didn’t cheat. There was no thuggery at all. They played a really tough game. They were outstanding.

James Tedesco

Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images

That the ball hit the Roosters trainer and robbed the Raiders of advantage infuriates me. However, not because the trainer deliberately cheated. He didn’t.

It was a freak occurrence. Every side does exactly the same thing with their trainers. It could just as easily have been a charge down cannoning into Canberra trainer Brett White.

Trainers being constantly present on the field is endemic in the NRL. What annoyed me is that I’ve been asking for years to rein this in or risk just such an incident. The NRL ignored those warnings only for them to be proven true in the biggest game of the season, and to the disadvantage of my team.

It will be an indictment on the NRL and the ARLC board if those responsible for that dreadful administration aren’t dealt with severely.

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But it is not the fault of Trent Robinson or his team.

When it comes to the horrific vilification of Ben Cummins in regard to the reversal of the six again call, people have to stop.

Cummins made a split-second mistake. That’s all. No one died. Nobody’s house burned down. Nobody lost their livelihood.

We have all stuffed up. Every one of us. Each of us has messed up something royally at least once. My life is a patchwork of stuff ups. I’m grateful that I’ve been forgiven for so many of them and given another go.

Cummins is the same as us. He’s just a human. He made a mistake and, horribly for him, it was on a massive stage.

He’ll be totally devastated by it. He’ll be inconsolable.

How do I know? Because in all my interactions with him, I have found him to be genuinely friendly and respectful.

You can also tell that he is well-liked among his colleagues. He regularly engages in fund-raising activities for things like children’s hospitals. He doesn’t make a song and dance about it, or try to get acclaim for it. He just does it.

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This is not a bad or nasty man. Far from it.

Further, suggestions of corruption on his part are ludicrous, baseless and are only being made by idiots.

Cummins isn’t just a good referee, he’s a great referee. He got the gig for the grand final on this basis.

This is a bloke who debuted in Round 9 of 2006 – 14 seasons ago – and has subsequently controlled 398 top-level games of rugby league. That experience includes 35 finals, 14 State of Origin games, as well as 16 internationals. Last Sunday’s grand final was his fifth decider.

You simply don’t get that amount of experience if you aren’t a superb referee.

That he made an error must not be used as a justification to destroy his record or his standing in the game. It happened in a split second. What’s amazing is it doesn’t happen more.

Let’s pause for a second to remember that Cummins was beloved by most of us for his “rubbish on the face” call on Cam Smith less than two months ago. We were celebrating his stance and his righteousness.

The ref whisperer gonna whisper

And there was that time he sent Will Chambers to the sin bin, which NSW Origin fans just loved. (AAP Image/Brendon Thorne)

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Now we are going to paint him as incompetent and expect it to hold any water?

Really?

And here’s the ugly truth for all you supporters frothing over this matter: even if the Raiders got six more tackles, there is no guarantee that they would have scored.

In the previous 70 minutes they had only scored one try. Ten of those minutes their opponents defended with 12 men.

Just like the decision to rule Suliasi Vunivalu incorrectly in touch in the first week of the finals, all the decision did was deny Canberra possession. It did not deny a try.

We have all got to suck it up and move on. We’ve got to give the champions the kudos they deserve.

And we’ve got to lay off Ben Cummins.

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Unless you’ve never had a shocker, you’ve got not right to bear a grudge on this. We need to let him know that we appreciate that he’s a great referee, that we know everyone makes mistakes, and that in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that big of a deal.

Because it really isn’t.