I actually enjoyed a rare moment of clarity over the weekend (No, I’m not on the wagon!). An epiphany, as it were. Listening to all the discussion about the ineffectiveness of the Bunker system, the inconsistency of refereeing decisions, “what a waste of $2M this Bunker is!”, “How can Corey Norman’s try be denied for obstruction?”, “Why did the referee go to the bunker when he had a clear view of the try? Is the NRL trying to promote more KFC ads?”. Whilst some of the comments ranged from sublime to the complete absurd (a few too many VBs will do that every time), it occurred to me that the problem is not the Bunker, or the referees, or the rule interpretation, or KFC for that matter. The problem is actually us! That’s right. You. Me. Him. Her. Well, maybe not her because women are always right.
Let’s just get a few things straight in our heads. For starters, THERE IS NO PERFECT SYSTEM!!! Our game is not perfect. The Bunker was never introduced to eliminate all decision making errors. Referees are actually human. It’s what makes the game so palatable and unpredictable. But, as sure as Malcolm Turnbull will struggle to formulate any tax reform policy, we, the fans, the media, the talkback caller who’s had one too many, will always have a whinge about referees and the decision making process. Nothing will ever satisfy us. Perhaps it’s just a by-product of our British ancestry. Who knows?
Case(s) in point – I heard people suggesting the Bunker / video review system should only be used in try scoring movements. Really??? The moment the NRL adopts that policy, is the moment we start complaining about “why do we have technology and not use it during the run of play??”. Can you imagine a high shot not being detected?
Another common complaint is – why don’t the refs make calls when they have a clear view of a try? Why are there so many referrals to the Bunker? Why can’t they just award the try? The answer is simple. It will take just one instance where a referee has the cojones to make that call and then get it wrong. Lookout. It’ll be a case of “Unleash the hounds!”. My hand is up. Over-referrals to the Bunker is one of my biggest bug-bear. I’ve often suggested that a referee should be allowed to make one of 3 decisions when making a call on tries:
- Try (if he or the touch judge has a clear view)
- No Try (ditto above)
- “I’ve got no idea, over to you Bunker-man”.
The problem with option 3 is – what if the Bunker also has no idea or no clear vision? Then what? A decision has to be made, right? Do they just take a stab? The bottom line is, the NRL have actually got it right. The problem is, the system is never going to be perfect AND we’ll always have a whinge regardless of what process is adopted.
The Other rule that seems to constantly raise conjecture is the much maligned obstruction rule. The NRL has attempted to objectify the interpretation whereby an attacking player is penalised if he catches the ball on the inside shoulder of the lead/decoy runner. Then we had the instance several weeks ago when Warriors winger Tuimoala Lolohea was denied a try and people started calling for “common sense” to override a “black and white” rule. So, we wanted to reintroduce a subjective interpretation to override an objective one? Where is the sense in that?
The only enhancement I would like to see made is what I refer to as “Straight line technology” whereby an imaginary line (similar to the Swimming or Soccer) is used to determine if a player is offside from kicks leading to tries. That way tries like Brad Takairangi (Parra v Eagles) and Mitch Aubusson (Roosters v Eagles) would’ve been fairly awarded. If we can enhance the game by introducing a jar of gherkin for recuperative powers, then surely straight line technology can be introduced as a matter of urgency.
Perhaps it’s our culture or even our God given right to “blame the system” when things go wrong. Yes, we are all a bunch of whining wagon-jumpers the moment we get a sniff of blood. And, yes, I’m as guilty as the next person. But you know what? I ain’t about to change. Someone’s got to cop the blame. And it sure as hell isn’t going to be me. Long live NRL controversy!
I cannot, for the life of me, comprehend the outcry for wanting to get rid of Golden Point. Just because the Lord Almighty aka Wayne Bennett doesn’t like it, that means we all jump on that bandwagon as well? Golden Point is one of the most exciting initiatives the NRL has ever introduced. Forget the fact other codes / sports haven’t introduced it. Bugger them. Their loss. Golden Point provides the most exciting 10 minutes of free entertainment anyone could wish for. I challenge anyone to walk away from the tv screen when Golden Point is on (except perhaps my brother who claims he was changing his son’s nappies during last Sunday’s thriller at Leichardt). Was last years Grand Final not one of the greatest sporting spectacles of all time? Sorry, Broncos fans…
If there was no Golden Point, then the last 10 minutes of regulation time would be exactly the same thing. A field goal-a-thon where no player is ever onside and referees put the whistle away. My suggestion to circumvent that problem is Golden Try. 10 minutes of extra time whereby, only a try can end the game. You can still kick field goals, referees can still award penalties but the game wouldn’t be over until, either a try is scored or after the full 10 minutes is played out. That would just elevate the excitement level to fever pitch. Someone asked “what if one team kicks 3 goals (or 6 points) and the other team then scores a try? The losing team has scored more points”. My response is BAD LUCK! They obviously had chances to score but didn’t. In any case, it wouldn’t make sense to go for the 3rd goal. In terms of record keeping, those statistics can easily administered by utilising the asterix in the record books.