How good is finals footy?
We saw a Broncos team with a few key players almost steal a win from a strong Roosters side.
We saw Cameron Smith, possibly the greatest rugby league player of all time hit the record of most NRL matches.
Parramatta Eels showed us they can still win the 2017 Premiership despite the loss in Melbourne.
The Penrith Panthers are into week two after beating the team who defeated them by 16 points one week earlier.
How about those Cowboys? Did anyone tip them? What a win against the defending Premiers!
With all these fantastic stories going on, it was such a shame that the slating of referees once again stole the headlines.
Blame the ref
Cronulla Sharks head coach Shane Flanagan walked straight into the press conference and heaping the blame on referees Ashley Klein and Gavin Badger for their one-point loss to the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium. Flanagan was quick to dismiss the fact that his side only completed at 60% and had 34 missed tackles, which is not good enough to win a regular season match let alone a finals match. He also overlooked claims that half-back Chad Townsend’s try should not have stood with Antonio Winterstein arguably grounding the ball first.
Another talking point in the game was when Sharks playmaker James Maloney was sin-binned. Maloney took out Ethan Lowe when Lowe was chasing a kick close to the line. Lowe may not have gone onto score the try however Maloney gave the officials no choice but to show him a yellow card.
It is such a shame that both Flanagan and Paul Gallen have made the talking point about the referees and not the brilliant match at Allianz Stadium, when the stats show that they were simply second best.
Barrett treads same path
Manly Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett was quick to blame match officials on the weekend after his team lost against the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium. The Sea Eagles went in as favorites after defeating the Panthers a week before at Brookvale Oval by 16 points.
The most talked about issue was a Tyrone Peachey try which, Barrett claimed should not have been initially awarded by referee Gerald Sutton. It was because the initial ruling was of a try that the NRL bunker looked for evidence to overturn the decision, something they could not find.
Maybe Barrett was right but later footage showed that both the bunker and Sutton made the correct call, so Barrett should be more worried about Akuila Uate messing up a certain try and his knock-on with no Panthers players in sight.
The outcome of these comments
What are these negative comments about referees doing to the game? Well, here’s just a couple of problems:
- How can the game attract referees for grassroots games?
- Are we teaching children a bad attitude by passing the blame?
- Crowds could be depleting due to the constant ref-bashing from coaches, players and fans.
- Attacks on refs – Nobody wants to see the refs get injured but in grass roots footy we are seeing refs get hit and get attacked due to a lack of accountability.
The referees are only human and we will never get them to call everything correctly. They will make mistakes like the players they are officiating over. They do not have the luxury of replays when calling on strips, high tackles and more. The refs now have a much harder role now than they did years ago with all the cameras and constant replays.
Todd Greenberg has taken an impressively strong stance against the criticism of officials. Greenberg said that the game needs to “grow up” and for coaches to stop blaming match officials for a loss. This is such a great stance by the NRL CEO and it’s about time the clubs take responsibility for their own performances.
There is no doubting the fact that the officials can’t improve. But it’s about time we start talking about fantastic games of rugby league rather than contentious refereeing decisions.
Do you think the performance of the referees has been up to scratch, or are players, coaches and fans too hard on the men in the middle? Let us know in the comments below.
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