Ben Thaler provided a supreme example of why poor refereeing is proving a real blight on Super League this season, slowing up play and causing intense frustration amongst the fans.
Right from the start Mr. Thaler allowed Bradford to lie on after the tackle was completed and failed to enforce off side. Despite winning the fair play award last season, the Arlie Birds then took the attitude of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach making for a first half where neither team could get up a head of steam due to the painfully slow recycling surrounding the play the ball.
There is a simple and pragmatic solution to this issue, which must be addressed now. I spoke to a taxi driver the other day who was so frustrated by Huddersfield (their name keeps cropping up) and their skinny ten yards, pushing the forward pass rule to the limit and lying on that he has stopped going to rugby league matches. I can fully understand how he feels. It’s not the cheap option for a Friday night out these days and the RFL need to get it sorted. Here’s how.
Stuart Cumming, who is the refs controller, should set out clear expectations for Officials which are then backed up by a meeting with all the coaches and captains.
I noticed last night especially that the touch judges gave absolutely no assistance to Mr. Thaler who, whilst trying to police offside was missing shenanigans around the ruck area. Give the responsibility for the ten yards to the touch judge to allow the ref to ensure the ball is recycled ASAP. In addition the in goal officials need to be given more responsibility inside the five yard line. The more eyes the fewer mistakes.
The coaches and players also need to take a role by not actively encouraging the above bending of the rules which is now out of control and rapidly becoming the norm.
As for Huddersfield who, in my opinion started all this, you can play decent flowing football without all this negative stuff. Look at the tape of the victory at Bell Vue a couple of weeks ago when a very decent Trinity side were put to the sword and cut out the cheating because that is what it is.