Whats the matter, It all matters

28/08/2013

by Colin Whelan nrlphotos.com
by Colin Whelan nrlphotos.com

Short and Sweets August 27th

Grey matter, What’s the matter, It all matters

I guess there is always going to be grey area within the rules of rugby league. That NO TRY ruling against Roger T-S after an amazing piece of footy by the Roosters left side had me wondering, even after watching it back several times on IQ.

SBW received the ball almost standing still but with a teammate between him and the Sharks defence.  That defender closest would never have stopped SBW making that exquisite over-head lobbed pass to RTS for the try in my opinion.

On the counter argument I can see that the Roosters player in front of SBW was in an offside position technically and possibly in an obstruction situation.

I guess it comes down to whether the refs/video refs felt there was an opportunity taken away from the defender. Tough call I thought.

Having watched the match back I thought the Sharks got an unusually high number of 50/50 calls. It usually goes the way of the physically dominant team. And to the home team?

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Recently the positioning of the “pocket referee” was drawn to my notice first in the televised NYC matches and put it down to enthusiasm and inexperience. Then, raised in my little brain, I could see that it was happening in NRL as well – that pocket ref is very often getting right in there as the tackled player even for so long on occasions that the tackled player is getting to his feet to play the ball.

I decided to have a look at a few matches from early season 2013, then across the majority of NRL referees and some from last season too.

Wow what differences there are!

Two random incidents have taken place since that time I started to take more notice of the positional sense of the pocket ref.

In the Bulldogs v Rabbits match ref Gavin Reynolds inexplicably decided to charge into a Doggies play the ball just a couple of metres from the Rabbits tryline. So far and so committed to yelling instructions to the tacklers to get off, he managed to get between the dummy half and the ruck. As fate would have it the ball carrier freed himself quickly enough that ref Reynolds now had the choice of picking up the ball to have a crack at his first try in NRL or become the meat in the sandwich.

The dummy half helped him out by literally shoving him out of the way! I gather there was no mention of a suspension for pushing the ref on this occasion.

How “embarrassment”!

Second prize in the positional gaffes in season 2013 goes to ref Jason Robinson.

Appearing to be in a world of his own ref Robo started on his merry way following the footy to the next ruck blissfully unaware of what was about to happen. Next thing you know he is over chasing on the inside of the flow of play; time stands still as he realised the ball was going to crash into him, in fact he could have caught it on the fly and maybe even made a break.

More embarrassment follows, but in this case it was not his fault.

The rules of footy gives the scrum feed to the team in the attacking half i.e. if the ball strikes the ref no matter who was in possession at that time, the team in the opponents half gets the feed. It doesn’t sound fair especially if the team working it out of its own half, as it was in this case, has done nothing wrong where the referee’s lack of concentration and anticipation caused the stoppage.

But can you come up with a better rule in these situations? It’s difficult.

I have asked the refs what they would do if it happened right on the half way line. An experienced ref replied “I make sure I never stand on half way”. Baboom.

In a lovely little moment, it was noted that the Bulldogs dummy half who had the satisfaction of shoving ref Reynolds was  ………………….. wait for it ……………………Michael Ennis!

I can’t think of anyone who would have enjoyed this rare moment in footy more!

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The conversation begun by coach Bennett around “deliberately conceding penalties” following the Knights loss to Melbourne was dealt with by Steve Mascord in his own humorous way here.

It was also dealt with more seriously here by coach Bellamy.

Another noteworthy approach came from coach Robinson of the Roosters who told ABC that rather than spend time trying to create a situation where the Roosters conceded fewer penalties, his approach was to develop a mental process of staying strong when a penalty is conceded to ensure the focus was on what comes next not what had happened. That is a great immediate way to go, as many teams do as well when a team mate concedes possession with a handling error.

To the annoyance of many old schoolers, including ABC’s Warren Ryan, in today’s footy world “we see players high fiving after an error”! The players get it; it’s just the old schoolers who misread the message. “We are with you bro/bra/cuz/mate. Let’s defend hard”.

Coach Robo didn’t mention what is said later about those penalties. Want to bet it wasn’t a major topic of post-match review after the spate of penalties conceded early on at Shark Park on Monday night? The strong mentality method was obviously a bridge too far coupled with the physical battering the Roosters took during that period. Even SBW was a culprit and appeared quite rattled for a little piece of the match. Then he inspired with skill and determination in an effort to set it straight.

It’s what pressure does to all of us.

It’s just by degrees and how quickly the recovery is and how deeply the lessons are learned. All eyes on the Roosters for different reason now.

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Pre-season I wrote about Melbourne’s great strength as a club (read what I had to say here)

WHAT I REALLY LIKE ABOUT THEMThey figure stuff out during the course of every season to continuously find improvements and adjustments to lead or counter trends in the game.

They appear to have done it again in 2013 after some terribly soft and almost inept performances during and immediately post Origin.

Look at them now. Problems solved? Yeah but they will be more than aware they may be more to solve before the season is out.

Manly appear to be rolling well but I reckon injuries and suspensions are still a bit of a concern for them as we enter the play off period.

Souths? They hit a recent rocky patch but got away with Dogs last week in a close one. Problems solved? Not sure.

Now the Roosters after bowing along wonderfully right through the season have their opportunity to rebound. It’s difficult to practice for these pressured situations without real pressure in place. Tough way to learn but all the good teams and clubs do.

On reflection Monday night’s loss and the manner in which it happened might be best thing that happened to them.

Then again ………….