Controversy Reigns in the NRL

By Daniel Andruczyk

This week saw some absolute howler referee decision in the NRL that has brought into question the standard of refs. Super league continues to draw the surprises, Lezignan powers on to the minor premiership in France and Lebanon has some surprise results as well. The Jamaican University Championships came to a close as well.

National Rugby League

As we have seen in previous years teams that do well one year, tend to have a slow start the next and vice versa. This certainly has been the case this year with the likes of Sydney City and Manly in reverse. The weekends results were as follows: The dragons beating the Doggies 26-6. Souths lost in a rugby union match to Gold Coast 19-18. The Sharks woes continued with a loss in Auckland to the Warriors 30-16, Melbourne held off a spirited Newcastle 20-14 and Nth Queensland beat not only the Panthers but the oncoming cyclone 28-20. In another terrible refereeing match Parramatta had a controversial win against Manly 24-20 while the Roosters great start continued with a win over Wests 44-32. Brisbane’s bad run in Canberra continued with a gutsy loss to the Raiders 22-14.

Team P W D L PD Pt
Sydney City 2 2 0 0 38 4
St George 2 2 0 0 26 4
Melbourne 2 2 0 0 10 4
Gold Coast 2 2 0 0 7 4
Penrith 2 1 0 1 10 2
New Zealand 2 1 0 1 8 2
Nth Queensland 2 1 0 1 2 2
Brisbane 2 1 0 1 -2 2
Parramatta 2 1 0 1 -2 2
Newcastle 2 1 0 1 -2 2
Wests 2 1 0 1 -8 2
Canberra 2 1 0 1 -10 2
Manly 2 0 0 2 -8 0
Cronulla 2 0 0 2 -18 0
Canterbury 2 0 0 2 -24 0
South Sydney 2 0 0 2 -27 0

On a more controversial note, the refereeing standard in the NRL has been pretty appalling so far. Two games of note in particular have surfaced. On Friday night the Souths and Titans match descended into what only can be described as a Rugby Union Match. The number of stoppages for what were nothing incidents was just unacceptable. Penalties that weren’t were rife and one got the feeling the Refs were there to make a name for them selves. The Parramatta and Manly match also say a NFL pass go unanswered. There are 4 refs on the field how the hell did they not see this! This clearly effected the match result and if I were a Manly fan I would be fuming.

One thing is for sure, Finch has got to go. He has not done a good job with the refs. The two ref system in my opinion is just not working. The same mistakes are being made and if anything the game is over policed. Watching the Super League on the weekend one could see much more flowing games of rugby League where teams actually ended up having room to play some nice flowing, and spontaneous attacking football.

Estonian Rugby League

In Estonia, there has been some good news with Michael Williams winning the Inaugural Rugby League Regional Development award. Here is some back ground on him from John Slade:

“Michael Williams is the first to be awarded this new development award, and it couldn’t have gone to a better person.

He arrived in Estonia to take up a job with a youth program in Saku approx 30 km’s from Tallinn the capital of Estonia.

Michael hails from Cornwall were he played RU for his local town, but on arriving joined the Tallinn Tigers RL side and quickly found that this was for him, and has played against Latvia and the Ukraine having been in Estonia almost three years.

Working with youngsters aged from 13-19 he felt the need to set up a school side, and with the help of the Estonian RL coaching team started the hard task of introducing RL.

Without any financial support and the occasional confrontation from the other sports clubs all chasing for players Michael has developed a hard core of youngsters who could become good players. They have no kit or even enough balls but during this extreme cold spell still turn up Tuesday and Thursday nights and put in 2 hours of tough work.

They have notched up their first win against the Tigers youth side over two games winning with 13 tries against 10, admittedly both games were in snow making for poor playing conditions.

His time is up in April and will be heading back too England and will be missed by everyone involved in developing RL in Estonia.”

best pick of coach.JPGMichael Williams winning the Regional Rugby League Development award.

Also this week the annual Rugby League snow competition was played in Tallinn. I don’t have any results as yet but some nice photos. Looks like a hell of a lot of fun.

Picture 021 Picture 016 Picture 019

Super League

I feel its safe to say that finally the salary cap in the Super League is starting to do its job. After so many years of dominance by Leeds and St Helens, other teams have finally stepped up to the plate. Some fantastic results this week in the Super League. Friday night saw St Helens play out a classic with Warrington in front of 17,500. The Bernard’s winning a tight contest 28-18. Crusaders in front of over 6000 fans showed that their wins this season have been no fluke beating the Catalans Dragons 14-6. At Hull 14,466 people watched FC beat Bradford 18-6 and Hull KR caused the upset of the round by beating Leeds at home 17-10. Quins got thrashed 32–18 by Huddersfield who have showed that last years form was no off chance and that Browns attacking style can work in the ESL. Front runners Wigan beat Castleford 36-22 and Wakefield continued Salford’s woes 36-6. The table standings are:

Team P W D L PD Pt
Wigan 7 6 0 1 154 12
Warrington 7 5 0 2 121 10
Huddersfield 7 5 0 2 102 10
St Helens 7 5 0 2 61 10
Hull FC 7 5 0 2 58 10
Wakefield 7 5 0 2 11 10
Hull KR 7 4 0 3 -36 8
Leeds 7 3 0 4 61 6
Bradford 7 3 0 4 -53 6
Crusaders 7 3 0 4 -71 6
Castleford 7 2 0 5 -51 4
Salford 7 1 0 6 -95 2
Catalans 7 1 0 6 -108 2
Harlequins 7 1 0 6 -154 2

Carcassonne Jump to Second

The Elite season is slowly coming to its climax. Round 16 sees the jostling for positions of teams from 2 to 8. Leziganan is destined to take the minor premiership. Even if they lost the next two round they will take the top spot. But to have still 7 teams in a shot of the finals is saying something for the closeness of the french competition. What can be said is that Carcassonne, Pia and Limoux have guaranteed spots but Carpentras, Villeneuve, UTC and Avignion certainly can still make the top 5. Results were: UTC 41 upset Pia 14, Carcassonne took second spot by beating bottom St Gaudens 52-18, Lezignan beat Avignion 44-22 and Carpentras had an upset win over Limoux 34-18. Villeneuve had the bye.

Team P W D L PD Pt
Lezignan 16 14 0 1 244 43
Carcassonne 14 9 0 4 150 31
Limoux 16 8 0 6 109 30
Pia 15 8 0 5 103 29
Carpentras 15 6 0 7 -2 25
Villeneuve 16 5 1 8 -77 25
UTC 15 5 0 8 -25 23
Avignion 16 4 1 9 -184 23
St Gaudens 15 1 0 12 -304 15

Jamaican University Championships

Jamaica saw the final of the Jamaican University Championships played out last Thursday. With GC Foster College taking on the University of Technology. GC had a fantastic win, coming from behind to take the title 24-20. They were the dominant team all season and congratulations go out to them for the win.

image010 Presentation of the Trophy in Jamaica


Round 14 of the Bank of Beirut Championships was played out. This was a battle of the titans with Jounieh and Balamand fighting out a 28-28 draw while the Wolves had an upset win over AUB 20-18. This takes the new team into 3rd position. How good is that!

Team P W D L PD Pt
LAU 8 8 0 0 424 16
Jounieh 9 5 1 3 38 11
Wolves 9 5 0 4 -51 10
Balamand 8 4 1 3 56 9
AUB 8 4 0 4 -9 8
USJ 8 2 0 6 -170 4
AUST 8 0 0 8 -262 0


Some news coming from Japan that there is a new third team joining the ANZACS and Tokyo Warriors. The Tokyo Gaijin Bulldogs which I assume also has a foreigner base to it (Gaijin is the name for a non native). So the Japanese Domestic comp will have 3 teams this season.

Rumour Mill

Word is that this weekend will see the RLEF meet and finalise the years tournaments and announce them next week.

I am told that the interview with Warren Heilig will finally be published in the April issue of Rugby League Magazine. Also I am hot on the trail of some news from the Middle East and Russia that should appear in RL Review soon too.

Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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21 Responses to “Controversy Reigns in the NRL”

  1. deluded pom says:

    Strangely there are calls in the SLE for us to adopt the two ref system, Richard Agar (Hull coach) being the most prominent voice. On another subject, the Bernards!!!!!! What’s all that about dru? You are the one and only person I’ve ever heard, or seen, call them that.

    • druzik says:

      Well, OK if ESL thinks it can do it to “keep up” with the Aussies then I wont have an issue with it. But there are two points I worry about.
      1. Do ESL have enough full time referees to do this, see I am not even sure that Australia does, there seems to be massive discrepancies between the two refs and the way they police the game… but maybe that is the beauty of it that a game can swing wildly with different refs in control every few minutes.
      2. What happens to the rest of the world? PNG, France, NZ etc… who really don’t have the money and resources to adopt a two ref policy? Will we get the have’s and have not’s?
      3.What happens at the International level? Will it be a two ref system or a single ref system… so once again we will have multiple laws and systems of Rugby League appearing?

      Hahaha… going back to the start of the super league, the mascot for St. Helens for a few seasons was the St Bernard… and I do distinctly remember them referred to by people years ago as the Bernard’s for a bit.

      • deluded pom? says:

        What I was getting at is that the two ref system is held up by some as the paragon of officiating to us in the UK yet here we have your good self running the two refs system down. I don’t think I could get my head round having two contrasting refereeing styles in the one game so God help the players.

      • druzik says:

        Its another issue… yes I am not a fan of the two ref systew… but if that is the way it goes then I have to accept it. But we need to have consistency in it and so if its applied there it has to be applied everywhere.

        Like I said we can have three different rules running around the shop.

        And you need to have a consistency between the two refs… if not then teams will learn quickly how to manipulate the two referees to their advantage.

      • deluded pom says:

        We can’t get consistency, which is all anyone can ask for, from one ref so how are we supposed to get it with two refs? One week something IS a penalty the next it ISN’T a penalty. The latest one under the microscope is the foot on the ball at the PTB. Do we let players merely wave their foot in the direction of the ball and carry on or do we penalise them for an incorrect PTB. Personally I’d penalise them. They’d soon get the message but we have to show consistency with rule applications. How do we explain to someone in a new country taking up rugby league for the first time that X amount of the rules he’s just read about are irrelevant? We either enforce the rules or we remove them from the rulebook. To simply apply “common sense” because it makes a better spectacle isn’t the domain of the refs. The players and the coaches will always try to bend/break the rules in their favour. If refs were consistent then everyone would know where they stand and we’d see a far better game whereas now because of the inconsistencises shown by refs coaches and players will try all they can to fool the man/men in the middle.

      • druzik says:

        So we need to bring in that consistency. Look I know refs will always be under the scrutiny, but there are just some blatant mistakes being done out there.

        Haven’t heard anything about the PTB issue, but if there is a blatant infringement then sure ping them, but see this is the issue because we have now “sped” the game up so much, in order to keep the game flowing players need to get up real quick etc to PTB and in doing so dont have the time to do it properly.

        RL has always been a faster and more attractive sport than union, slowing it down will not change that, but if we want to really clean much of the mess up we need to let the game slow down if its being dictated that way. If players want to play at a million miles and hour fine, but let them have that option, don’t force it artificially.

  2. deluded pom says:

    Oh and please,please,please don’t call them FC. It’s Hull and Rovers. None of this FC and KR rubbish please 😉

  3. oikee says:

    The 2 ref system is working fine Druzik, dont expect it to ever change in Australia. Would be best for super league to get it introduced sooner, rather than later. We had a couple of pee happy refs in the Rabbits game, which was sorted out, and the touchie got dumped in the Parra forward pass game. So no concerns from down under really. The 2 refs are working well, the game is faster than i can remember, this is why it seems bad when refs slow the game with penalties. The crowd cheering for penalties does not help. All is well down under, the Bronco Canberra game was a cracker.

    • druzik says:

      Yeah… the touchie being a scapegoat… The ref’s should have picked up on that as well… I am not happy on that call. Its a case of sticking fingers in your ears and going lalalalalalalalala IMHO.

      See you say the game is faster… but my question is: Is a Faster game necessarily a better game? Why do we need to artificially speed the game up? Whats wrong with having a slow grinding it out match?

      The speed of a game should be dictated by the players and the flow of the game not by the refs. Some of the best games over the years I have seen have been the hard gritty games with teams fighting it out… actually just a couple of weeks ago was a prime example. QLD Cup I was at the Wunnum v Burleigh 0-0 match. It was a great high quality match where both teams tried everything in attack, slowing, speeding the game up, hitting up through the middle or chips over the defense, they threw everything at each other but the defense was up to it. No where near as fast as the NRL but damn it was fun to watch.

      My point is that the speed of that match was dictated by the players and the ref kept out of all the pedantic decision, only the most blatant of penalties were given… and despite the score the crowd came away very happy with what they saw. I certainly did.

      • deluded pom? says:

        But in your example aren’t you asking the ref to ignore a penalty just because the infringement isn’t serious enough in your eyes? A penalty is a penalty. If we decide to ignore trivial offences then why not remove the offence and subsequent penalty from the rule book? Refs, damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

      • druzik says:

        I am asking for some common sense to come into it. Not to have a penalty for the sake of having a penalty. Look I bet you could spot a “technical infringement” in every single tackle and blow the whistle but you know that is just silly. But it seems that that si what is happening… Look time will tell through the year weather we are right to judge or not.

  4. Anthony says:

    Okay being the resident Manly fan on RLIS I have to disagree with having two ref’s. Firstly the the senior referee (Shane Hayne) missed not only 1 but two forward passes but also a offside from the chip and chase. So the try should have gone to the video ref at the very least.

    As I have mentioned another worrying trend in the NRL is the ref’s evening up the penalties. To me this is akin to fixing a game.

  5. deluded pom says:

    There’s no problem with a fast game as long as it’s fast because the players are playing the game correctly and speedily rather than the ref ignoring infringements just to keep a fast game fast.

  6. Zane says:

    The two ref system is in its 2nd year with the NRL now and it has changed the dynamic of the game. Play is faster and endurance plays a bigger part in the game. Saying that, having two refs on the field has not cut down on the stupid and questionable calls they make.

  7. C.T.SANDERS says:

    How about having an international rl tournament in the snow daniel?What a neat idea

  8. C.T.SANDERS says:


    • druzik says:

      Agree… 2 refs has not worked.

      Thye ref feeding… that is an interesting one, has merit to it .

      Video Refs can stay…. but needs to be cleaned up.

      Unlimited tackles…. are you nuts. No one would want that. The reason it went to limited tackles was because it WAS GETTING boring and skills were being lost. Teams just did nothing but hold onto that ball. If you see some of the games from those days, theyb really were not attractive to watch.

      The sport it too intense for just 2 subs. 4 reserves and 8 subs through the match I think is the ideal. Should still allow at the back end the smaller guys a shot at the big tires forwards.

  9. C.T.SANDERS says:

    Well i never ever saw a boring game of football under unlimited tackles because the skill levels were much higher and it was non stop action.People tend to forget that if the dummy half got caught in poccession he had to surrender the ball to he opposition,kicking was very rare and when it did happened it caught everyone out by surprise including the spectactors and the viewers on tv.there was no need for a 20/40 kick because the scrums were always compeitive and the video referee is a load of old boots.Football doesn’t have one and by the way i am nuts.

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