Saturday, 10 September 2016

‘Bunkergate’ blames lies with Cecchin, not video ref (2016)

For years the NRL has been meddling with the video referee system only for every change to be met with opposition and calls for a new system.

All throughout last year there were calls for a Video Bunker system, for which the NRL finally obliged.

Now after just 17 games, it is amazingly being criticised for getting a decision right.

During the Friday night game between the Bulldogs and the Eels, Sam Kasiano throws a pass which to this spectator, was a line ball at best, but did float forward quite a bit for a relatively short pass – and that has me thinking it could have been forward.

Sam Perrett picked up the loose ball and scored. Matt Cecchin signalled a try before consulting with his touch judge, who called a forward pass.

The Video Referee Bernard Sutton said while watching the replay “…if Parramatta haven’t knocked the ball backwards, then the live decision on field is a forward pass.”

Therefore, the Bunker made no error, it simply cleaned up Cecchin’s error.

Yes, the Video Referee is not supposed to adjudicate on forward passes. But in reality, they didn’t. 

The sideline official did.

Instead of being happy with the correct decision having been made by the Bunker, attention is now going to focus on this one issue, which really, has little to do with the Bunker and more to do with Cecchin not consulting with his touch judge before signalling try or no try.

But this also highlights a bigger issue with video referee technology. People want a video referee while also wanting the on field referee to have more control. This level of contradiction has caused numerous tweaks to how the video ref functions in the past.

If we want the decisions surrounding a try to be correct, then the video referee should look at the entire movement leading up to the try from the last play the ball.

If we want referees to have control of decisions, then we should do away with the video referee.

We currently have a situation where we have our cake and want to eat it too, even though we’re not sure if we want cake.

The Bunker is the best innovation the game has enjoyed in some time. It is many years overdue. Yes there was a hiccup, but it made the right decision. The word of the touch judge, it must be noted, holds as much authority as the on-field officials, thus why their word is accepted as fact by on-field officials.

So it stands to reason that if an on-field official calls for the video referee and foolishly forgets to consult with his colleagues first before signalling try or no try, those other officials should still have their voice heard if they think something should be investigated by the video referee.
Which is exactly what happened on this occasion.

**This article appeared on the Commentary Box Sports website**

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