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Please explain….

Déjà vu anyone? Another NRL game, another complete stuff up by a referee and another disenfranchised supporter group.

I’m going to preface this by saying yes, I am a Wests Tigers supporter. Plenty of people will read this as a whinge, but to be honest, I’m not worried by that. The fact this post comes now is simply a result of my current state of mind, and how ridiculous I feel as a footy fan.

So we’ll start with the Bulldogs v Tigers game. First of all, the biggest talking point, the Johnathan Wright ‘try’. You ask a rugby league fan, they’ll tell you it’s a no-try. The expert commentators everywhere will say it’s a no-try. The fact that the Bulldogs team waited on the 10m line as a group ready to line up for a penalty tells you they didn’t believe it’s a try. The lack of an explanation by then control referee Ben Cummins says even he didn’t think it was a try. So why was it awarded? What about the Robbie Farah no-try and Aaron Woods try. On both occasions Jared Maxwell awarded held-up, before changing his mind and sending it upstairs. On both occasions he was in no position to make a call, yet decided to make one anyway. Then, when questioned by Robbie Farah on the first one, he said “I can’t rule on that”, despite the fact that he made the final decision on the try. That explains everything wrong with the game, shifting of the blame.

In regard to golden point, I’m a fan of it under the condition that it is played and refereed the same as the first 20 minutes of a game. It has become clear this isn’t the case, so I can’t see how you justify keeping it when it is different football.

In general, it is quite clear that the refereeing standard is terrible. I can, as a fan, accept referees making mistakes via human error. Last Sunday Tony Archer awarded a penalty to the Bulldogs against the Broncos, which within five seconds he understood that he had made a mistake and apologised to the Broncos for that, but said he couldn’t change the decision. Whilst it is a terrible error, I can accept it when it is simple human error. In my opinion, we have gone past that.

I make a living out of rugby league and it has been a major part of my life for longer than a decade. But it has got to the point where I am extremely frustrated with games which I don’t care about. If it wasn’t for the fact that I watch the football for my job, and report on it, I would be at the point of turning it off, and not turning it back on until something is done.

The game of rugby league and it’s business model thrives on an emotional investment being made by the supporter. It thrives and breeds tribalism, and the emotional rollercoaster that you can go on with your team. I’ve been on that rollercoaster for a long time, and enjoyed the ride up until a couple of years ago. In 2010, my Tigers team were knocked out of the competition by the Dragons after a glaring error in the dying minutes with the game tied. It is as close to tears following a sporting event as I have ever been. I know it’s just a game, and get over it etc, but that kind of emotional investment is what keeps this sport thriving. But when you rely on that kind of investment, you have to ensure that people can’t be left feeling cheated. That night I felt cheated by the game, and I along with plenty of other Tigers fans feel cheated after the Bulldogs game. In Round 1 and Round 21 Sharks fans felt cheated. In Origin 1 and 3 NSW fans felt cheated. Those are just a couple of examples off the top of my head at the moment, but there are plenty more from recent years. You can’t expect that investment, and then completely crush a fan’s spirit.

I’m not going to say I have all the answers, because I don’t. I have suggestions (which include the removal of referees controlling refereeing, because it’s like the blind leading the blind, but moving on), but I can’t say they will be the difference. I can’t make an emotional investment if I’m only going to get a negative return. All I can say is that if I’m not working or my Tigers aren’t playing, I won’t be watching the NRL this season.

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  1. LAURIE dOWNTON
    August 18, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Couldn’ t agree more. The Farrah no try was a joke. The ball clearly hit the ground as Farrah dived over and then was seen to come to rest on Barbas leg. The video ref was the only one capable of reaching a decision as the referee turned up to the scene about an hour late! So what happens? The video ref refers it back to refs call! What an absolute joke. A cop out from upstairs cause he must of been aware that the ref was nowhere near proceedings so how could you possibly refer it back. A system full of holes that is embarrassing for the code.

  2. Anonymous
    August 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    I have no love for either the Tigers or the Bulldogs I make that clear from the start, just imagine if last nights game was the grand final, there would have been a riot. Indecision followed by bad decision.

    Then in golden point time everyone is allowed to be off side, get serious .

    With all the millions spent on our game if this is the best crop of referees that the NRL can come up with then we all have a serious problem.

    Fix it or supporters will leave in droves to watch something else.

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