Negativity alert: I apologise in advance for the tone of the following but the frustration has again built to a level where something needs to be said.
Despite a brilliant round of football that included some of the best ANZAC ceremonies I have ever seen, talk remains focused on rugby league officials.
Rooster’s coach Trent Robinson absolutely teed off in the aftermath of the Roosters close loss to the Dragons, while Cameron Smith’s touching of an official went unchallenged just a week after Penrith’s Sam McKendry was suspended for the exact same offence.
Quite frankly the NRL needs to decide on its official stance and apply some consistency across the board when it comes to touching and speaking about referees.
Already fuming after seeing their player suspended for a near identical offence that saw other players escape suspension, Panthers fans are now throwing their hands to the sky in disbelief following the latest ruling.
It’s likely just a coincidence, but three big name players in Smith, Thurston and to a lesser extend Klemmer, served a combined zero weeks suspended for something which saw McKendry miss his side’s clash with the Sharks.
Panther’s fans are, rightfully in my mind, asking ‘what gives’?
For the record I don’t believe Smith should have been sighted or suspended. He was just trying to position himself ready for the next play and made incidental contact with Matt Ceccin.
That being said, if you suspend McKendry then surely you have to suspend Smith.
Both players initiated contact, neither were aggressive, neither caused any obvious physical harm nor seemed to intimidate the referee involved. Why suspend one but not the other?
Meanwhile the NRL continue to send mixed messages on what is acceptable when referring to the performance of match officials.
Trent Robinson probably crossed a line in his press conference, but he has every right to question calls he believes were made incorrect.
Let’s face it, the referees are never going to get it right all the time, it’s impossible. We the viewers have the benefit of slow motion replays from many angles, the referees don’t have such luxuries.
There have been coaching officials questioning decisions made all season, albeit not with the verbosity employed by the Roosters coach, yet it seems to be a lottery as to whether they are fined.
If there’s a line that can’t be crossed, make it so clear that even the most casual of fans can understand it.
Head of referees Tony Archer has himself fallen into the mixed message category. One week he will make no comment about contentious decisions, yet the next week he will publicly admit errors.
NRL officials can’t have it both ways. Either issue a blanket ban, and enforce said ban, on commenting on match officials, or have an open discussion.
Fans are frustrated, I can only imagine how NRL coaches and players feel.
Are players going to be suspended if they touch referees or not? Are coaches going to be fined if they say something about match officials or not?
Todd Greenberg has been in the job now for long enough that he should be front and centre when it comes to these issues.
It’s all well and good to have the bright buttons and high definition televisions in the bunker, but there continues to be too many inconsistencies when it comes to refereeing.
Decisions will differ from referee to referee, that is only natural, but the match review committee and NRL officials need to work out what they want to achieve and allow everyone to know just what that is.
Unfortunately it feels like contact with match officials is early 2016’s fad. Referees have already started calling time off the shot clocks when the countdown looks as though it might expire.
Remember when players were being penalised for taking drop outs beyond the goal-line? Good times.
Return of the sin bin, but for how long?
While talking about 2016 ‘fads’, it looks as though the sin bin is back in style.
More players have been sent to the bin for professional fouls over the past fortnight than I can remember over the past few years.
It’s good to see as we may finally see a reduction in players giving away penalties close to the try line to allow his teammates to set the line, which should lead to more tries.
I just hope this isn’t another four-week crack down that is soon ignored after something newer comes along.