Saturday, 4 April 2015

*OPINION* "Respecting NRL Referees"

Opinion Piece:
"Respecting NRL Referees"

This is the first of many opinion/editorial articles I'm planning to write and I'm starting with my opinion on the NRL referees and in particular yesterday's debacle between the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Let me start by saying in no way, shape of form is fans throwing bottles at the officials acceptable. I get the anger, I get the emotion but physically hurling things at the referee is simply not acceptable for an elite professional level sport. It's not acceptable in the Mudgee 5th division and it's not acceptable in the NRL.

Now the whole thing could have been handled a bit better. The fact is commentators and media are blasting the NRL referees every chance they get. They make mistakes but the more and more these high-profile media outlets and players get into them, the more fans will be irate.

And with a bit of research you will find that yesterday's decision was the correct one. But the way it all happened was unfortunate for nearly everyone involved. James Graham showed sportsmanship towards his injured opponent and was seemingly punished for it. Now if this particular thing happens again, will James Graham simply walk away. 

I'm not going to dispute the call or anything like that but I will say that hearing Graham and David Klemmer blast the referee live on air at 5:30 in the afternoon was slightly disappointing. I'm not one of those people who think Graham should have respected the referee a bit more. In the heat of the moment that's just not going to happen.

What I am going to say is that the referee should simply send the player to the sin bin. Klemmer indeed was given his marching orders but Graham stayed on. In football or soccer, players are yellow carded for descent. It's time that similar punishment comes into rugby league. Trust me, it'll change the way referees are treated by the players.

Yes Graham was in his rights to question the call but a simple non-explicit argument could have worked a lot better. Something like "no mate, you're wrong" or "that's a pathetic call". Question the call, give the referee a bit of stick but don't throw f-bombs and what not at the official. At the end of the day it doesn't help. 

Finally, a lot of people were blasting Graham but he showed great sportsmanship and although he did take it too far with the referee I can't say he deserves to be punished. Bring in new rules where in those situation the player is cautioned. Then sin-binned and then maybe even sent off. Simple.

To the people calling Graham a grub, you're forgetting about the care he showed for the injured Adam Reynolds. I'd love to have Graham at Manly and I'm sure most people would love to have a player like him at their club. He's a hard-hitting British bulldog and one of the better forwards in the game. Like him or not you can't deny that. 

To Canterbury I feel bad for your club. Ban the idiot fans who threw the bottles. Ban the fans who allegedly assaulted a Souths supporter and move on. Des Hasler handled the situation very well in his post-match presser. 

The Bulldogs don't deserve the crap they cop from other clubs' fans. They're not the same club as they were a decade or so ago. They're a family-friendly football team with the first-female CEO (correct me if I'm wrong). Yes they've got some 'bogan' fans here and there but the majority aren't that bad. 

I sat right next to thousands of them at the semi final last year and it wasn't a problem. There was banter, there was swearing, but no bottles were thrown (that I know of) and no one was hurt. But a lot needs to be done to weed out the troublemakers and I'm sure the Bulldogs will do just that.

-Hopefully that was a good article. I'm going to work hard on my opinion pieces so expect some improvement.

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