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Friday, 28 March 2014
The Halftime Spray #1 (2014)
The Friday night clash between Wests Tigers and Souths was one that should be a great worry for referees. It was pretty clear that in the last 10 minutes, that the referees had lost control of the players. This was entirely due to the on-field referees being too timid about sending any players off the field.
Whether this fear is due to not wanting to make things unfair by allowing one side to have more players, or to avoid scrutiny by fans, or being a prominent factor in the result, either way, they failed.
Several players were put on report, 2 were sent to the sin bin (albeit one was for a professional foul not harming other players) and both fullbacks copped high shots, leaving Greg Inglis unable to play after just 5 minutes, and James Tedesco copping three heavy high tackles.
On Monday night, Melbourne Storm were penalised on several occasions in the first half alone for lifting in tackles, one of which went horribly wrong just seconds before halftime which has now left Newcastle Knights player Alex McKinnon in hospital with severe neck damage which could take between months and years to fully recover from.
Accidents do happen and that is the nature of the beast. However, I believe in both games, intervention from referees could have been vital in changing the players attitudes regarding their repeated infringements and thus changed the way the players acted.
Over the past few years there has been an immense increase in the number of players being reported for infringements and, compared to over a decade ago, a dramatic reduction in sin-binnings and send-offs for dangerous conduct.
I believe that if an incident is bad enough to be penalised and put on report, then it's bad enough to warrant at least 10 minutes in the sin bin.
If this policy was in place, it would make every player on the field, not just those on the team of the sin-binned player, to pull their heads in, as they know any illegal hits will mean that they are not only going to get ten in the bin, but it will also risk their team conceding points.
It will also allow referees to retain control of a game when things get heated after an illegal action.
And no one is going to complain when referees are making decisions based on the safety and welfare of the players, while also cleaning the game up and making it very clear that foul play will be dealt with immediately, which sends the right message to all involved.
As a side note, I'd like to send my best wishes to Alex McKinnon and I hope he has a full and speedy recovery. Right now, getting better and back on your feet is the only important thing.