Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Mad Monday - Referee Standards (2012)

Yes, I'm about to lace into the referee's. Its not to do with any bad calls my team has received recently or any massive blunders that may have happened on the weekend.

It's because I watched some footage of rugby league games recently from the sixties to the nineties and I fear that the refereeing standard back then far exceeded that of the referees today.

Are the modern refs to fault? No.

A mass of rugby league commentators, print, radio and television, all expressed many years ago the desire to have video refs to assist in the decision making of whether tries were scored.

This has inadvertantly forced the refs on the field into complacency. If they dare go it alone and make a decision based on what they saw, they stand to be harrangued by the hoardes of fans on the receiving end of the decision.

If they then opt to go to the video everytime, which is more and more frequent in occurence today, then they get harrangued for not having the gumption to make the call like the refs in the good old days.

This softly softly approach by referees when ruling on tries has also extended to illegal play. But only half of it.

Diving has become a blight on the game. Players know they can stay down after getting hit, despite not being injured, knowing they'll get a penalty.

It's high time that diving was issued with a similar penalty. If you are hit late and stay down, the ref should immediately rule you are unconscious and are not to return to the field for the rest of the game. The player will also have to have an extra week off so as to ensure the concussion has been medicated appropriately and the player has fully recovered.

If we are going to have officials feign an interest in the players safety, they may as well enforce that concern fully. This way we weed out diving while also ensuring players who genuinely do get concussions and other injuries are properly treated.

On the other side of the coin, is the placing of players on report ad-nauseum. This makes no sense. If we have a video ref to ajudicate on tries, then surely they can assist with illegal play.

Putting someone on report for a high tackle that leaves one player injured and unable to return, while the attacker remains on the field for the rest of the game is not a fair system.

People can handle when a ref makes a bad call on his own as it's not always possible to make the right call every time while in the moment. But when the technology is there to assist and errors are still made, then it makes the job for the men in the middle even harder.

It's time that video refs are given upgraded technology, such as high definition footage on high definition screens and the opportunity to be asked to make a review of an illegal play when asked to by the refs on the field.

If we don't make the step forward, then we take the referee quality backwards and subsequently, the quality of the games as well.

Mad Monday - Origin Eligibility Farce (2012)

The word 'origin' is defined in many dictionaries as meaning:
*The first stage of existence

With this in mind, I hereby put forward my crazy idea to put an end to all this debate over Origin eligibility.

After much researching and digging around, mostly in my wallet, I came across an amazing document, which I already knew existed for every other human being.

Way back in time, further than we can remember, there was a time when we were all extracted from
our hosts in a bloodied and agonising moment, known as birth. There were people who actually recorded all of these instances, detailing such information as name, sex, length and weight of the new life, as well as place of birth.

This information all proves to be very helpful for my point.

You play Origin for the state you were born in. If you were not born in Queensland or New South Wales, then you don't play Origin.

Some say this harsh. "What about Petero Civoniceva? He was born in Fiji and his family moved to Australia when he was 1. We can't lose players of his quality from the Rep football scene."
Fair point, but one which I can counter.

Petero is Fijian. He plays for Fiji. Fiji has a National team, he can play for them, thus he won't be lost to the representative football scene, furthermore, he'd be a great help for Fijian Rugby League. The Australia game appears to be doing fine in comparison.

Now my opinion has been met with much discussion and some criticism. Most don't like my "No grey area's" stance.

But when the word 'origin' is used as the main term in the phrase "State of Origin" then it may as well be enforced.

Otherwise, we can just call it "State of Wherever."

If I had to implement just one 'grey-area' rule, it would be that if you were not born in Australia and want to play Origin, then you become an Australian citizen and represent Australia only. This decision can not be reversed. If you are a Kiwi and want to play Origin, then you can never represent New Zealand in any way ever again.

One last thing, the Blues fans have been harping on for years about Queensland having Origin players from outside of Queensland.

Well after some digging around, I found there have been 34 players all up, representing both states, who were not born in the state they represented, or even in Australia. 19 played for Queensland, 15 for New South Wales.

And so I present to you, the State of Wherever champion teams

New South Wherever
1 - Tim Brasher
2 - Hazem El Masri
3 - Chris Johns
4 - John Hopoate
5 - Akuila Uate
6 - Peter Wallace
7 - Peter Sterling
8 - Justin Poore
9 - Ben Elias
10 - Willie Mason
11 - Ian Roberts
12 - Mario Fenech
13 - Timana Tahu
14 - Ken Nagas
15 - James McManus

1 - Karmichael Hunt
2 - Israel Folau
3 - Greg Inglis
4 - Paul Bowman
5 - Lote Tuqiri
6 - Mat Rogers
7 - Adrian Lam
8 - Petero Civoniceva
9 - Neville Costigan
10 - Antonio Kaufusi
11 - Sam Thaiday
12 - Brad Thorn
13 - Michael Crocker
14 - Chris Flannery
15 - Robbie O'Davis
16 - Julian O'Neill
17 - Scott Sattler
18 - Willie Tonga
19 - Tonie Carroll

Monday Monday - Benji & Farah (2012)

Every year the media circle around Concord, concocting wild and fanciful stories about division within the Wests Tigers ranks.

We've heard stories, and I mean stories, about a Tigers player sleeping with a team-mates wife, some sort of love-in between 'room-mates' Benji Marshall and Tim Moltzen, who don't actually live together, fueds between Farah and Sheens and the most frequently reported one of all, fueds between Farah and Marshall.

Every time these fanciful, lets call them what they are, bullshit, stories come out, Benji and Farah refute them, laughing off the claims.

Then the media says "What would you expect them to say, of course they'll deny it."

How can they win? The media world has made up it's mind and they'll do whatever they can to force the public to believe it.

Yesterday the Wests Tigers and the Rugby League world was deeply saddened to hear that Robbie Farah's mother, Sonia, passed away, just hours before the Tigers were to kick off against the Roosters.
Her loss will be devastating to Farah and to his team mates, some he has been playing alongside for the duration of his NRL career.

They are all family.

The scene of Benji Marshall openly crying and trying to hold back tears yesterday during the minute silence to remember his mate's mother shows just how close the Tigers are.

Just how close Benji and Robbie are.

Family is stronger than sport.

We can only hope that all those responsible in the media for feeding this concoction realises they have got it all completely wrong and give the whole rubbish about a fued between Marshall and Farah a rest because clearly, there's no story there.

It's time that the media started reporting facts instead of trying to make them up.

Benji's tears were those of a friend, who is deeply saddened by the loss of another friend's mother.

I speak on behalf of everyone here at League Unlimited when I say we give Robbie Farah and his friends and family our warmest, heartfelt and deepest sympathies and condolences for the loss of his beloved mother.

Home Ground (2012)

Every Sunday at sixteen hundred hours, members of the people’s army of National Rugby League, reach for the remote control and turn their television on to Channel 9 (or Channel 90 if you live outside of QLD and NSW) to sit and watch the delayed telecast of the game played that day.

And for the most part, those games invariably contain the Wests Tigers. As a Tigers fan this doesn’t particularly worry me too much, but the one thing that irritates many fans, including those supporting the Tigers, is the commentary by Ray Warren and his luminary Phil Gould about Sunday afternoon games at Leichhardt Oval.

These two old men, whose memories seemingly stopped recording data in 1989, will wax lyrical for the majority of the broadcast about AMCO Cup games and the old interstate clashes before Origin being played at Leichhardt.

If the game is in a particularly low point, we may even be subjected to memories of when the ground ran east to west (not north to south like it does today).

In fact, when you look at the TV guide prior to kick off and see “Leichhardt Oval” in the guide, you know, with military precision, exactly what commentary you will expect.

And with the precision of a Swedish clockmaker, they deliver.

Why is this irritating?

It’s because they are stating the bleeding obvious.

Leichhardt Oval is a magnificent ground. Unlike the plethora of stadia around the country and the globe nowadays, Leichhardt Oval has charm and a sense of loyalty about it. While the rest of the world has gone on to bigger and better things, such as 80,000 seated stadiums and the like, the grand old girl on the water has stayed true to her original self for nigh on eighty years.

The ground began as essentially park as far back as the 1880’s, with cricket mostly being played there. It wasn’t until Balmain Tigers planned a move there in the early 1930’s, that the ground was upgraded so as to accommodate fans who would invariably make the pilgrimage to the watersiders new home.

The first game the Tigers played at Leichhardt Oval was in Round 1 of the 1934 season, when they took on the best team in the competition and eventual premiers that year, as well as the team who Balmain would eventually merge with some 6 and a half decades later, Western Suburbs. Balmain lost 18-5.

From those halcyon days, Balmain turned Leichhardt Oval into somewhat of a fortress. From that first game in 1934 til the last game of 1950, Balmain won 61, drew 5 and lost 19 games there.

This period coincided with a decade of dominance by the Tigers, clearly their most dominant era in the games history in Australia. In that time, Balmain missed the finals just 4 times, appeared in 8 grand finals and winning 4 premierships.

Balmain would have success in the future as well, but not as consistently over such a long period time, yet they still managed to maintain an upper hand when playing at home.

Leichhardt was revamped in the 1970’s, her first major upgrade. The field was rotated ninety degrees and lighting was installed at the venue. Leichhardt Oval was a marquee venue. Before long it became home to Interstate games, preseason competitions and mid-week cup competitions as the lighting at the venue was a major drawcard.

The 1970’s and 1980’s were the busiest period in Leichhardt’s Rugby League life, hosting 395 matches between 1974 and 1987. To put this in perspective, in the 65 years either side of the 1974-87 era, there were 399 games played at Leichhardt.

The trees guarding the ground from the nearby water, the hill bereft of seating, grand stands and all the other mod-cons, the glorious old scoreboard which harks back to the days of a simpler but seemingly more honest time, are truly romantic concepts that warm the cockles of our hearts.

Even the betrayal by the Balmain club in the mid 90’s to change its name and move to Parramatta stadium couldn’t last. Leichhardt’s charm had won over everyone and Balmain soon came crawling back, like a child to its mother, happily reunited.

Not even a big screen can make the ground look out dated. It just reveals how much technology looks out of place in our true environment with nature.

With our home.

Our home ground.