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Time to blow whistle on referees' bosses


1 The ARL Commission has got to blow up the refereeing department at the end of the season and start again. The problems obviously run too deep to be fixed with a few changes here and there. We wouldn't be getting the sort of decision we saw from Steve Clark in the video referee's box at the game between Manly and North Queensland if everyone was on the same page. Before the finals we were all worried that a horrible decision on a decoy play would ruin a finals game, but when the catastrophe came it was on what appeared to be a much more straight-forward call. It's now hard to imagine referees' bosses Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper surviving beyond this season. Could you imagine the ARLC doing its end-of-season review and coming back with a report that said they should remain in charge? That seems unlikely, after this season. It just doesn't work that way in business, and that's what the game is now more than ever since the introduction of the commission.

2 Why is the term ''benefit of the doubt'' used at all when it comes to video refereeing? It adds nothing positive to the process. All it does is add to any doubt. If a video ref looks at six or eight replays and then awards a try citing benefit of the doubt, how is that supposed to make us have any confidence in the decision? Either make it ''try'' or ''no try'', and if you really don't know send it back to the referee and let him make the decision.

3 It wouldn't just be Canterbury fans who are suffering withdrawal symptoms from not being able to get their weekly dose of Ben Barba. I must admit I missed him, with the Bulldogs being out of action at the weekend. He has played in all 25 of their games this season. The good thing about Barba is that he isn't blinded by his own brilliance in attack - he knows he must continue brushing up on defence and taking bombs. ''It's something I really had to fix, and I like to think I've done it pretty well this year,'' Barba said. ''But I've still got to work on it because I'm sure there will be more tackles for me to make and more bombs for me to catch in the next couple of weeks.''

4 The future of Souths co-captain Michael Crocker remains undecided. I'm told the 32-year-old has had an offer sitting on the table from the Rabbitohs for next year for the past six weeks, but is yet to accept it. Whether he is holding out for more money or a longer-term deal, or has another option either here or overseas he is considering, isn't clear.

If we ended up with a Canterbury-Melbourne grand final it would be the third time coaches Des Hasler and Craig Bellamy will have met in a decider - but their first legitimate clash. The first two, when Hasler was coaching Manly, were in 2007 and '08, and Melbourne were subsequently found to have cheated the salary cap over a five-year period that included those two years. The Storm won 34-8 in 2007, but the Sea Eagles beat them 40-0 in 2008. There was a call from Storm founder John Ribot on the weekend for the 2007 and 2009 premierships that were stripped from Melbourne to be reinstated. Why?

6 Jorge Taufua is a throwback to John Hopoate at his best. He even looks like ''Hoppa''. That was one hell of a game from the Manly winger against North Queensland, thoroughly deserving of the man-of-the-match award. The statistics hammer home how big a factor Taufua was in Manly's win. He ran for 268 metres and had 11 tackle breaks, three line breaks, one try and one try assist. You don't perform that well in a high-pressure finals game unless you're something special. Taufua is only 20 and in his rookie year of first-grade. He is going to be a star.

Twitter: @gregprichard

17 comments so far

  • Thank you Greg for this article. Iam old old codger and I love this game of rugby league and I can watch a game fri. sat. sun. and mon. and then watch the replays later on fox and read the paper reports of the games.I can't tell you how much joy all of this brings me and my friends and family.What drives us mad is that after some of these great games the topic is 100% the referees its disgraceful. The two video refs. for the manly cowboys game should never be allowed to participate in a game again. I believe explayers must be given a go please.

    Date and time
    September 17, 2012, 8:57AM
    • Not only will those two video referees ever to ref another game this season, those two on field referees also need to be put into the freezer. What is "unintentional grounding the ball" in the your own goal line. Perhaps next time, when a player catches the ball in their own goal line, ground the ball. Then the attacking team turn their backs and jog back to form the defensive line, in the mean time, the player with the ball could run 100m to score a try.................. The try would be allow as he has just unintentionally grounding the ball............

      Date and time
      September 17, 2012, 12:37PM
  • Why can't we go back to the Ref's making the decissions. Then like the NFL get the video ref to review and only if there is indisputable video evidence, then over turn the ref's decission. we also need to go back and get the officals doing their job. The linesmen rule on the 10 meters and forward passes like they used to. Now they are so far out of position they can't rule on anything. There should also only be one Ref in charge, it's okay to have the second ref but this Ref should only be used for the ruck.

    The ScareCrow
    Date and time
    September 17, 2012, 9:26AM
    • Stephen Clark was an appalling referee and as we've seen this season many times is an appalling video referee so at least he's consistent. Hollywood Harrigan was also overrated and to see him head of the referees is beyond belief. How either of those tries were awarded against the Cowboys shows either a level of incompetence or bias that beggars belief. The Commission needs to act fast. Clark should be stood down permanently effective immediately and replaced by a former player, a former referee and a member of the Commission.

      Date and time
      September 17, 2012, 10:42AM
      • Without controversies like these, the game would be too boring. Five tackles, kick, five tackles kick, five tackles kick, get my drift?
        The game was different, but better, under the unlimited tackle rule. Could the NRL arrange a game based on the 1960 rules, just to show people how good it used to be?

        Huyton Huntly
        Date and time
        September 17, 2012, 11:29AM
        • Sorry daffy you are totally wrong. The game was changed from unlimited tackles, because it was so boring. One team could hold the ball for the majority of the game and win - thats how Saints won 11 Grand Finals. The game is a much better spectacle today even with all of the ref blunders. I also think there is more to these blunders than we know. How did they get the Foran knock on, so wrong. It is obvious to anyone seeing that replay that he clearly touched the ball. I think something smells here and that the police need to investigate if refs are being bribed or if we have another betting fiasco. How else could they get it so wrong? Were they drunk?

          Date and time
          September 17, 2012, 1:30PM
        • Pedro, did you watch the game. Manly got a dud call too. Both teams had a dud call go against them. The Tafua grounding was a try - there shouldn't even have been any doubt, as has been confirmed afterwards. Are you implying Manly payed the refs?

          Reality check
          Date and time
          September 17, 2012, 9:28PM
      • Harrigan is too busy trying to justify bad decisions.
        Robert Finch never should have been given his marching papers, he knows more about refereeing than this lot all rolled in to one.
        If I was the boss of a League team I would hire Mr R Finch to officially question every decision taken against my team with a "please explain" this poor decision.
        The constant Red Faces might soon bring about real change.

        Date and time
        September 17, 2012, 11:31AM
        • Great commonsense article, Greg, puts into words what a lot of us have been thinking about the stupid "Benefit of the Doubt" rule.

          You forgot to mention the ad hoc ways that Harrigan has been changing the interpretation of the rules, in particular the one about "unintentional" grounding of the ball in goal.

          the poor performance of the referees this year in general begs the question as to why bother with having a video referee. Let the two refs and two linesmen earn their money for once. So often they are in the best position to rule, but don't.

          Peter Johns
          Townsville, NQ
          Date and time
          September 17, 2012, 1:10PM
      • I have to agree with both 'oldirishman' & 'The ScareCrow' comments and would like to add mine, Harrigan is & always has been the problem. The guys in the middle (should only be 1) are not afraid to call it as it happens. There is TOO MUCH PRESSURE from Harrigan as they know he will 'interpret' evfery rule in the book to suit himself. As the game becomes more and more "modernised for Tv" the game cannot afford people such as Harrigan calling the "shots" after a dozen different camera shots game after game manipulating the rules as he goes. I feel for the touch judges today, they are not prepared to raise their arm for any incidents big or small. How many Touchies have ran on to the field or ruled forward passes this year? And breing back Sunday afternoon games in Sydney and the GRAND FINAL TO 3 PM KICK OFF. Channel 9 will still get their ratings & probably more. GO DRAGONS.

        Broadbeach, QueeNZland
        Date and time
        September 17, 2012, 11:41AM

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