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Tom Burgess' effort was a great golden-point try - here's why I dislike it

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Roar Guru
21st April, 2021
61
1107 Reads

My heart rate has just about returned to base after that ending to the Souths-Wests encounter last weekend.

Tom Burgess crashed over with downward momentum (or so said the Bunker) to claim that rarity on top of a rarity – an extra-time, golden point try.

And yet, and yet, it still feels somewhat hollow.

In a week where football fans in England have had our collective consciences pricked, the sporting values that we hold on dear to reaffirmed, an extra-time golden point somehow feels unfair.

At the risk of ostracisation from respectable Australian digital society, I still struggle to support the idea of extra-time points during the regular season.

What exactly is wrong with acknowledging that two teams gave it all for 80 minutes, share the deserved pointed riches and bragging rights until next time?

I am well aware of the different sporting landscapes in Europe and Australasia. But it is still the same sport, and if nothing but from a logical point of view, it is fundamentally difficult to justify divergences between domestic rules and international scoring.

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Even in Australia, the principle of the draw isn’t alien in the same way as it is to those Yanks.

Test cricket hardly suffers for the possibility of drawing five-day matches, and indeed entire series like the Ashes.

It existed in rugby league for many years prior to the Super League wars, and if after ten minutes the sides fail to score, then the thrills are split (as happened between Newcastle and Penrith last season).

The European Super League (not that one) introduced golden point in an act of Australian mimicry that wasn’t really desired by the fans here, and only really served to demonstrate independence from the national governing body.

As captivating as the last-minute outcome at the Olympic Stadium was, there is always another side. Just over 24 hours later, Hull FC drew with Warrington in a display of abominably comical drop-kicking that was neither dramatic nor desirous.

Last month, Hull KR had a brilliant, three-try comeback against Catalans, an amazing story of effort and perseverance, with a hat-trick by debutant and former Rooster Ryan Hall.

But what should have been a fair, hard earned point was ruined by a James Maloney extra-time drop-goal (leaving the men from East Hull cursing him and his habit of solo barbequing, if in slightly more Anglo-Saxon vocabulary).

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It also isn’t entirely fair. There’s a coin toss, the winning captain’s side receives the kick-off, can drive it up within five sets for a shot at victory before the other lot have even got their mitts on the ball.

Thomas Burgess looks on

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Had games that went to golden point ended in a draw (with one point handed to both sides), then the finals would have had a very different complexion last year: Parramatta would’ve been stuck in the elimination finals for a starter, with Easts not facing Canberra in Week 2.

For all the talk of the importance of making the top-four, such a sporting distortion is no irrelevance.

Don’t get me wrong, I love some last-minute game-winning action. The low-scoring drop-goal ensures its rarity, in turn enhancing the drama of its utilisation at strategic moments.

I love an even-scored game going into the dying embers, precisely because there is that ticking clock, where it very much is now-or-never.

There’s a time and a place for such schemes. Knock-out finals footy, cup games all require winners on the night.

They logistically cannot end tied, and thus it makes sense to have a tiebreaker.

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I appreciate I will be in a lonely minority on this topic (as indeed I have been on many others in the past).

And call me a hypocrite, because I was jumping up and down in ecstasy, agony, suspended confusion and everything else in between as Souths secured victory last weekend.

Rugby league should never seek to be afraid of innovation to make the game more exciting.

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But this just seems over-the-top, skewering results and the league table based on luck, rather than rewarding hard work. Sometimes it’s okay to meritoriously acknowledge the formidable prowess of the two sides on the night.

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