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Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks: Flanagan apologises for referee rant

Sharks mentor Shane Flanagan has made significant steps away from his post-match rant after losing to the North Queensland Cowboys in an open letter.


Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has penned an open letter to fans and members apologising for his bizarre rant in the wake of his side’s 15-14 elimination final loss to the North Queensland Cowboys.

The long-time Sharks mentor came into the post-match press conference with a written list of issues and concerns over the officiating of the match and slammed the referees as “disgraceful” in a fiery rant.

Time to grow up

Flanagan’s furious presser came just a day after Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett had also blamed officials following his side’s 22-10 loss to the Penrith Panthers.

The pair of heated press conferences forced NRL CEO Todd Greenberg to demand more maturity from the game and the people in it, telling them to “grow up” and move away from a culture of blaming match officials for losses.

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“Unfortunately in this game we’ve developed a culture of blaming match officials for a loss,” said Greenberg.

“It sets a terrible example to fans and a terrible example to grassroots and it’s got to stop. It’s time for the game to grow up.”

The NRL dished out a breach notice and a $30,000 fine to Flanagan following his rant, but it appears the coach has had a change of heart.

In an open letter to fans published on the Sharks website he admitted that: “in 2017, we were nowhere near the standard required to be challenging for this year’s premiership.”

His letter continued: 

Our discipline and errors – particularly in possession – wasn’t good enough and in the biggest game of the season, we were found wanting.

We all know what happened after the loss to the Cowboys. In the post-match press conference, I was asked about the performance of the match officials.

As it stands, our Club has been hit with a $30,000 breach notice for my response.

I owe you an apology. I owe the game an apology. I’m sorry for the way I reacted.   – Shane Flanagan

The note comes as some relief to people calling for an end to the blaming of referees while Cronulla fans will be happy that their coach has taken responsibility for their side’s performance.

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There will always be some blame apportioned to match officials as with any sport that is filmed and dissected from dozens of different camera angles.

That is the nature of the beast, and something long-time star coach Wayne Bennett brought up when criticising the game’s reliance on technology after week one of the NRL finals.

Hopefully Flanagan’s apology will turn the focus back onto the players with the ball rather than the man with the whistle. 

Is this note enough to change your opinion on Flanagan, or was he right in what he said during the press conference? Let us know in the comments below.

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Daniel Lang

Rugby League & Cricket editor at RealSport.

Daniel is a passionate advocate for the game of rugby league and the development of the sport across the world and, as such, writes with a zeal and determination to spread the gospel of the game.

A huge fan of cricket, football, NFL, Tennis and Supercar racing in Australia, Daniel can quickly find himself a casual fan of just about any sport after putting his mind to watching it.

Daniel is also one-half of the hugely successful podcast 'Panthers Weekly with Strawbs & Teach' where he talks all things Panthers Weekly while he also hosts the current affairs show 'the Strawbs Show' and the 'Summer of Cricket with Strawbs & Shnuu' as well as appearing on the Sydney FC covering 'Nothing But Blue Skies' podcast occasionally.

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks: Flanagan apologises for referee rant

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