Rugby League


Video ref Andrew Dunemann defends controversial Eels obstruction call

NRL video referee Andrew Dunemann has staunchly defended his decision to disallow a try to Parramatta due to obstruction in its 21-18 loss to Wests Tigers on Monday, adamant the call was a ''no-brainer'' despite criticism from the Eels.

Dunemann and fellow video referee Steve Clark overruled on-field referee Matt Cecchin after he approved a try to centre Will Hopoate, ruling Eels forward David Gower impeded Tigers youngster Luke Brooks, who fell to the ground.  

An angry Eels coach Brad Arthur accused the halfback of taking a dive, while Parramatta star Jarryd Hayne branded the obstruction rule a "lottery''. 

As the former player in the box, it is Dunemann's responsibility to make the final call. 

The former Canberra Raiders assistant and interim coach used his blog on the website for his company Boom Sports Management and Media to stand by his decision.

"The try in which Luke Brooks was interfered with, in my opinion, was a no-brainer,'' he wrote.


"In my opinion there is no way he took a dive, and there was no way I was going to be the person who questioned his character with the evidence I had in front of me.  

"It doesn't take much when you are [sliding in defence] to be brought down, particularly when it's big man against little.

''The other things to note are Brooks was basically in front of the sweep runner, and had no reason to play Russian roulette as it would have been a three-on-three situation, and possibility four-on-three to the defence. 

"The last damning piece is the sweep runner runs into the immediate space Brooks would have been defending in.''

The obstruction interpretation has been a constant source of frustration for players and fans this year. It intensified when the NRL admitted the referees were wrong in awarding Manly's Kieran Foran a crucial try in the team's win over North Queensland last Friday night. 

Video referee Paul Mellor, who made the decision, was dropped for this weekend. 

"To all intents and purposes it [Hopoate's no try] is what happened in the Cowboys game, except instead of being able to make some play, Brooks was on the ground,'' former halfback Dunemann wrote. 

"The inside defender is denied a chance to fill his immediate space, in which the attacker continues to run to create an advantage. 

"The tolerance of contact will always be different depending on what then unfolds with the play, what type of play it is, where the space is created, and where the try is scored.''

Arthur vented his frustration after the game, accusing Brooks of gamesmanship and said clubs are now confused about what constitutes obstruction. 

"I don't know what an obstruction is any more,'' Arthur said. 

"As coaches, we'll start to encourage our players to take a dive. 

"The rule is you've got to get back on the inside shoulder and that's what Dave Gower did.''

Hayne also insisted it should have been a try. 

"In the past, that's a try,'' he said. 

"Let's just keep consistent and on the same page and not change it a week, two weeks after. 

"That's what's frustrating the most.''