NRL Referees: Anderson’s Messianic Status Downgraded to ‘Interested Party’

“Now, you listen here: ‘e’s not the Messiah, ‘e’s a very naughty boy! Now, go away!”

– Brian’s Mother, Life of Brian

Occam’s Razor (or Keep It Simple, Stupid): “ … a principle that favours the simplest explanation of a thing rather than the complex …”

Occam’s Razor For Dummies   

He referees for the players and the spectators rather than to a nit-picking  obsession with the small print of the law book.

– Spiro Zavos on rugby referee Craig Joubert

here ye, here ye ... this is how I see the obstruction rule ...
here ye, here ye … this is how I see the obstruction rule …

Daniel Anderson was supposed to be the Messiah of Rugby League Referees, delivering us a New Testament complete with the Gospels of Obstruction, Shoulder Charges, Grounding and Ruck Speed.

He was supposed to be the Neo of the NRL Matrix, but has become a glitch himself, even without the intervention of Agent David Smith.

Anderson’s credentials are impeccable. A host of Super League awards and triumphs were bookended with NRL Grand Final appearances, before being cruelly sacked from the Eels the year after guiding them to an unlikely Grand Final appearance. If the referees hadn’t incorrectly penalised the Eels that night instead of correctly ruling a Storm knock-on on the halfway line with a few minutes remaining, he might have ended up a Premiership coach.

There is no doubting his ability to analyse and exploit the rules of the game when coaching, but there is some question now about his ability to deliver the right outcomes from the other side of the divide.

Unfortunately what is coming out of the referee’s dugout is making less sense than Kim Jong Un on a bad hair day.

Already, the banning of the shoulder charge has revealed a judiciary in dire need of performance-enhancing drugs of their own. The spinelessness of the Fa’aoso suspension is matched only by the apparent disregard for head injury that the rule was meant to mitigate.

Dan Hunt ran into 3 Sharks employing the shoulder charge the other night and not a word was said by the commentariat (as directed …?). Perhaps the on-field referees and video gimp box in the sky thought they were watching Finding Nemo.

Last night, Danny Buderus collected Blake Ferguson who, truth be told, might need a whack around the chops himself just like an old TV set on the blink. The point is: if you’re going to have the law for the reasons stated, then actually do something when it occurs. It’s a mystery why this simple approach is being avoided.

When i try and eat myself by enveloping my head with my bottom lip, you can say Ricky is not happy!

When I try and eat myself by enveloping my head with my bottom lip, you can say Ricky is not happy!

Ricky Stuart had it right yesterday in stating why he hates the current obstruction interpretation. As did Ivan Cleary when he talked about players being forced to take dives to generate a penalty. Once again, bad decisions drag in the law of unintended consequences like a black hole and, like last year, rugby league’s 2013 talking points look like they will be centred on boneheaded rules interpretations rather than positives. 

If the Dr’s prescription was filled at the local NRL pharmacy way back in January, then perhaps we’d be talking about other things that need fixing, like why referees can’t see forward passes or advantage rules.

As recommended in January, this rule cannot be rules-based. That is, the interpretation simply cannot be that if there is a collision somewhere … anywhere … then a try must be disallowed.Taking Occam’s Razor out of the top draw, the rule needs only to identify if there has been an obstruction that has affected the play. That’s it.

How the modern obstruction rule is determined ...

How the modern obstruction rule is determined …

It doesn’t cover someone who makes a bad read (like Jamie Lyon on Chris Lawrence on Thursday night … and Jamie would admit that), and it doesn’t cover someone 3 light years away who is moving away from the direction of the ball. As it stands, anything referred to the video referee results in a ‘no try’ ruling irrespective of the distance from an incidental collision to the ball carrier. Conversely, referees who don’t consult the video referee tend to award a try.

By Anderson saying the video referees are getting it right is tantamount to saying the on-field referees are getting it horribly wrong (such as with a Knights try against the Tigers last week, as one example, or the Slater try against the Broncos on Friday as another). So where are the sackings? It’s high time the rules reflected the ‘spirit of the game’. There will always be errors when using discretion (just like the weekly forward passes and advantage rule), but I guarantee everyone will be happier with common sense.


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