TANTRUM OR T ACTIC?
jonathon. tuxworth@ news. com. au @ bulletin_ sport IT’S a commonplace sight at virtually every regional football ground. A handful of fans, usually knocking back a few ales, who feel it’s their God- given right to hurl abuse at the officials because they paid their five bucks to get in. Often the referees can be quite young. Some give up their Saturday or Sunday afternoons for peanuts, with being involved in the game they love their main compensation. There wouldn’t be a game without a referee. It’s not a cliche, it’s fact. And it’s why if the NRL are fair dinkum about stamping out ref criticism by coaches in post- match press conferences, the penalty must increase. It’s a case of monkey see, monkey do. The average punter sees high profile NRL coaches shooting from the hip, which gives them the impression it’s acceptable. As it stands the fine for a breach is $ 10,000 which has been dealt out by the NRL to Dragons mentor Paul McGregor and Cowboys coach Paul Green the past two weeks. Clearly it isn’t a big enough deterrent as both entered their respective press conferences with a premeditated plan to take aim at the officials.
On face value at least, Green’s was a head- scratcher. It came after the Cowboys put in a brave effort against league leaders Melbourne, despite losing experienced campaigners Gavin Cooper and Antonio Winterstein to injury early.
The first question asked by a journalist was about how courageous the performance was. The comments about referees was unprompted and never raised by the media pack.
The narrative was never going to be ‘ the Cowboys were awful’, so it can’t be construed as a ploy to distract journalists from how they played. It may have been an outpouring of frustration after the Roosters won the second half penalty count 6- 2 in beating the Cowboys in Sydney the week before.
This is just a guess, but it’s been thrown up by a few people it’s to try to get the odd 50- 50 call heading into September, which would make it money well spent.
“That was the worst refereeing display I have ever seen,” Green said.
“There were some calls where they lacked consistency.
“I’m not one to shift the blame away from our performance, but the fans deserved more than that.
“There were two quality teams out there and I was left scratching my head at some of the calls.
“I said to the boys after the game I’ve never been involved in a game where so many things have gone against us ... it’s just a shame the refs ruined the game.”
It effectively took some of the spotlight away from a gritty Cowboys performance despite their injury woes.
Earlier this week Eels legend Nathan Hindmarsh suggested increasing the penalty to $ 50,000 to discourage coaches from declaring war on the system. It has its merits.
Many may not realise the $ 10,000 fine doesn’t come out of the coach’s wallet. It is simply deducted from a club’s NRL grant.
That’s effectively a drop in the ocean, especially if a club feels they can gain a slight edge by getting into the referee’s head in one of the closest competitions in the world.
Perhaps it’s the chicken or the egg theory. Maybe the quality of the refereeing ranks isn’t as strong as it could be, because some promising officials aren’t prepared to put up with the vitriol sent their way.
When they have a great game without any controversy, no coach ever walks into a post- game press conference singing their praises.
If they did occasionally, perhaps the officials would be willing to cop an ear bashing if they deserve it.
As a game in general, rugby league should be teaching respect for authority to our youngsters coming through, and it starts from the top.
At the end of the day it must be remembered the referees are giving up part of their weekend so players and spectators can enjoy themselves.
NOT HAPPY: Cowboys coach Paul Green was fired up at the post game media conference following his side’s loss at home to the Melbourne Storm.