After a weekend of controversy, Todd Greenberg faced the media and demanded that the Rugby League community “grow up” and bring an end to a culture of referee blaming in the sport. Greenberg and the NRL’s first step in attempting to achieve this was to relieve Shane Flanagan and Trent Barrett of a large portion of their annual salaries. Lost in the rush to deride Barrett and Flanagan, more substantial than the $50,000 the two coaches were forced to donate to the NRL, was the fact that the standard of refereeing in the game is perhaps as bad as it has ever been and there is seemingly little effort being exerted to fix it.
On Saturday afternoon at AAMI Park, Ben Cummins produced a performance that warranted Benny Hill Music to be played any time he was forced in a decision. In a match where the Melbourne Storm won by 2 points in scoring four tries, Cummins incorrectly awarded them two. The first after seeing a pass go 2 metres forward, that it had only travelled forward after deflecting off Parramatta’s Kirisoma Auva’a. The only problem with Cummins’ logic is that Auva’a was in front of Curtis Scott when the Storm centre passed the ball, I may not have a degree in physics, but i am not sure how a ball passed backwards can touch a player in front of the passer.
This is not the kind of error that should be accepted by a first grade referee, this was no 50-50 call gone wrong, it was like a winger in open space with no one to beat dropping the ball over the try line. What was Cummins punishment for this and a number of other howlers? With half the number of referees required this weekend, surely his services wouldn’t be required this weekend would they?
Well I don’t know what it says about the referees not getting a gig, but Cummins is an Assistant Referee on Saturday night, in the Eels knockout semi final with the Cowboys. That’s right, not only does he have a gig this weekend but it is in the game in which the team he dudded is playing.
Are the NRL for real? In a week in which they pointed to the fans complaints as the problem rather than the diabolical officiating of the games officials, they make this kind of ridiculous decision. On what planet does it make sense that Ben Cummins should be one of the 4 first grade Referees officiating this weekend? How about instead of demanding fans grow up, the NRL actually treats them with a little bit of respect.
It’s your call Todd but fans expressing their discontent is not the problem that needs to be resolved by the NRL, it is the symptom. What kind of business upon receiving complaints from it’s customers suggests that the solution to the problem is that the complainant simply stop complaining? The lifeblood of the game is its fans and they are telling the NRL that the current state of officiating is unacceptable. How long will their cries go unanswered before they stop reaching into their pockets to give the game the funds it needs to survive and thrive
Listen below to Bozza discussing this and whole lot more on The Pinch Hitters with Boz and Pav. Subscribe to The Pinch Hitters on I-Tunes or Soundcloud.