What is all the fuss about?
The NRL has decided, in a fairly arbitrary fashion, to crack down on players making contact with the referee. Zero tolerance. I can understand where they are coming from in one sense. Respect for referees seems to be at an all-time low and regular reports of referees being punched during junior football games hit the news from time to time, so an exemplary standard must be kept.
The tale of the tape so far is as follows:
- Corey Norman wasn’t charged for touching Matt Cecchin on the arm in round 1. Apparently an informal warning was issued.
- David Klemmer was found not guilty of making illegal contact with the referee (putting his hand on referee Ben Cummin’s chest) in round 2.
- Trent Merrin wasn’t charged in the same game despite coming into contact with Ben Cummins.
- James Roberts pleaded guilty to a grade one contrary conduct charge for patting Matt Noyen on the chest as he walked past in round 2.
- In round 3, Kieran Foran took the early guilty plea to a grade one contrary conduct charge (putting his hand on referee Matt Cecchin’s back) which seemed much more innocuous than all the above.
- Sam McKendry suspended this week for touching Jared Maxwell.
- JT not even cited for doing the same thing.
I don’t ostensibly have a problem with what the NRL has decided but I think the following needs to be ironed out:
- If protecting the referees is that important, which I think it is, there shouldn’t just be a crackdown on illegal touching of the referees, it should be the norm. One of the biggest accusations levelled at the NRL is that they arbitrarily focus on a rule for a while, incorrect play the balls for instance, and then return to normality soon after. If this is important, it should become the status quo.
- Make consistent decisions.
Consistent interpretation and application of the rules is always the problem. We could talk all day about the interpretation and application of the obstruction rule. It is the LBW of Rugby League.
Back on the contact with referee’s issue, one option is to literally make the refs untouchable. Any contact, no matter whether it is accidental or deliberate is misconduct and while there can be different levels of misconduct, misconduct it is. BTW this will not work. It isn’t Workplace Health and Safety for starters. It will all fall apart the first time someone accidentally collides with a referee.
The only real option is to explain clearly what does and does not constitute illegal contact with the referee and continue to enforce that interpretation consistently forever. The current interpretation seems too grey. The players are confused as to what constitutes misconduct. Probably the best option is to make all contact with the referee illegal except accidental contact. Any other interpretation will keep the players guessing and that is never a good thing.
What is sweeter than Jelly Bread?
- GSW. Toughing it out over Houston despite the absence of Steph Curry.
- Newcastle United. Finally showing some heart with a win against Swansea (very nervy first 80 minutes though) and a draw against Man City. A long way to go but doesn’t seem impossible to consider that they may stay up after all.
- PNG Hunters. Still rolling. Maybe this is their year.
EPL Tips Match Week 35
Arsenal vs West Brom – Arsenal 3-0
Man City vs Stoke – Man City 2-0
Aston Villa vs Southampton – Southampton 3-1
Bournemouth vs Chelsea – Chelsea 2-1
Liverpool vs Newcastle – Draw 2-2
Sunderland vs Arsenal – Arsenal 1-0
Leicester vs Swansea – Leicester 2-0
Tottenham vs West Brom – Tottenham 4-0
BTW I’m going head to head with Lawro (Mark Lawrenson of the BBC) again this year. He has gone and changed his scoring system (a correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth TEN points and picking an exact score FORTY points).
Me – 70 (7 from 14 with no perfect scores) and Lawro – 100 (7 from 14 with 1 perfect score)
Season so far
Me – 2540 and Lawro – 2510 (Lawro fights back once again)
NRL Tips Round 8
As mentioned previously, tipping against the spread this year.
Broncos vs Rabbitohs (+14.5) – Broncos
Bulldogs vs Titans (+9.5) – Titans
Raiders vs Tigers (+6.0) – Raiders
Cowboys vs Eels (+8.5) – Cowboys
Sharks vs Panthers (+4.0) – Sharks
Knights (+7.5) vs Sea Eagles – Knights
Dragons (+2.5) vs Roosters – Dragons
Storm vs Warriors (+3.5) – Storm
Season so far
Slipping further and further under 0.500.
Stay tuned for the next exciting episode on Saturday, 30 April 2016 titled ‘International Rugby League – Encouraging Signs’.