After a weekend that saw the continued rising of The Suns and the sign of things to come from The Cowboys, refereeing decisions (and responses to them) remain an unwelcome distraction.
In Super Rugby, the QLD Reds are still complaining after the video ref intervened in the 80th minute on Saturday night to give a penalty against the home team that would ultimately seal their fate.
In Canberra on Sunday The Raiders lost again and their coach, Ricky Stuart, was complaining again. Nothing new there.
In both cases there are two issues at work.
One, the quality and nature of decision making in both codes is appalling. The other is the rush of coaches and players to blame the refs for their own mistakes.
Anthony Griffin, whose Broncos have been on the receiving end of some clangers, is one of the honourable exceptions.
The Reds have played poorly and without discipline all year. It’s the reason they’ve won so few games . The same happened against The Rebels. Nearing the end of a match they looked like winning,one of their players — Ed O’Donoghue — became embroiled in a wrestling contest with an opponent as his team had made their way down the other end of the field.
It was a monumental display of selfishness and ill-discipline. The video ref then intervened in an entirely inappropriate way and the game was gone.
QLD Captain, James Horwill, blamed the eventual loss on the referees. Wrong — he should’ve been blaming Ed. Had he not infringed it would not have been possible for the refs to get involved. It was Queensland’s incompetence that gave the officials a chance to show their own.
Likewise in Canberra where Raiders’ player, David Shillington, took exception to a Penrith tackle.
In the fracas that followed, a Canberra try was scored and reversed. The decision making process was flawed but stemmed directly from the lack of discipline by Shillington. Players simply should not respond to provocation and coaches should not be defending them when they do. It sends a very bad message.
The simple fact is that Canberra had every opportunity to win that game but made way too many mistakes.
Ricky should do as coaches so often preach — control the controllables.
In both cases we saw the intervention of technology in a manner that was never intended and in a way that is seriously under-mining confidence amongst players, coaches and supporters.
Might be that, by blaming refs, players and coaches are seeking to have the public look elsewhere for the reasons for their poor performance.
It won’t work.