The inconsistencies of the ‘crackdown’ are under the microscope again!
A record number of charges in Round 9 shows the NRL’s match review committee has picked up the slack on the league’s crackdown on head and neck contact, with on-field referees yet to catch up.
When the MRC sheet dropped on Monday morning, 14 players were charged with offences over the weekend – the most since at least 1999.
Eight of those were charges relating to contact with the head or neck.
At various points in the past 22 years there have been 13 players charged over a weekend of football, but the last time was in 2015.
It’s an unwelcome record for the NRL, with head of football Graham Annesley saying they will reiterate the message to on-field referees before Magic Round this week.
“In recent times that’s a record to have that many charges in a round of football,” Annesley said.
“It’s showing that the match review committee and the judiciary are taking these matters seriously and they have reset their bar with how they deal with these things.
“We just need to get the referees and bunker officials on the same page.”
It follows a controversial weekend for the NRL’s officials, which started on Friday night in Parramatta’s 31-18 win over the Sydney Roosters.
Annesley says Marata Niukore and Dylan Brown should have been sin-binned at minimum for acts of foul play.
The incidents happened just two days after the NRL announced a crackdown on contact with the head and neck and encouraged the use of the sin-bin to stamp out foul play.
The Eels stars are set to miss a combined five weeks for a careless high tackle and dangerous contact respectively, but the NRL wants these matters dealt with on the field.
“At an absolute minimum the players should have been sent to the sin bin, because that activates the potential for the 18th man,” Annesley said on Monday.
“Sending off is the final step, and is something that could have been considered and there would have been no complaints from anyone in his building had they taken that option in one or both of the incidents.
“Not sending them to the sin bin was not acceptable.”
The Eels’ 31-18 victory also exposed a bunker fault that saw Brown put on report at the resumption of play for the second half – 20 minutes after he made contact with Sydney Roosters five-eighth Drew Hutchison.
Annesley said it was unacceptable and he’s concerned that it was not an obvious call immediately from the bunker.
“The whole thing was disjointed, the processes weren’t followed,” he said.
“I’m not making excuses for them, because they didn’t take the action that should have been taken.
“In this particular instance, there was three incidents they were reviewing, which is very unusual.
“We’ve taken steps to address that process to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”