Friday, 30 March 2018

Penalty Bonanza's(2018)

The 2018 season has been dominated by a referee crack down on play-the-balls, markers breaking early and defenders rushing up too quick. These crackdowns happen every year but tend to only last two weeks. However this time around the referees to their credit, have stuck to their guns.

It has drawn the ire of commentators and fans, saying that the mass of penalties in games, many attracting 20, while the Sharks v Storm game tonight saw over 30 blown, is detrimental to the game. So who do they blame? The referees.

While a very very small percentage will be doubtful, the overwhelming majority are correct calls. This is a fault of the players and coaches entirely to refuse to yield to the rules in place that are being heavily policed at present.

The Sharks v Storm game though saw things escalate further. 33 penalties were blown for the game, with two players, the experienced Luke Lewis and Cameron Smith, both spending time in the sin bin. This was an occasion where the referees made mistakes.

It wasn’t on the policing of the game though. It was a reluctance to use the sin bin. This mad obsession of trying to keep the game as 13 on 13 has to end. Because players have shown after 4 weeks that they are prepared to keep giving the penalties away.

So the referees need to be prepared to make games 9 on 10 if need be if it helps to get their message across. Use the bin more frequently until the message sinks in.

And while I’m at it, calls to reinstate the 5 minute sin bin to help with this crack down are foolish. It needs to be ten minute stints. The next time a game looks to be headed in the same ill-disciplined direction as this Sharks v Storm game, but having the match reduced to 10 v 10, teams will soon learn that they need to change their style to be rules-compliant.

Otherwise, we’ll continue seeing 20 and 30 odd penalties being awarded every game, every week.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Take A Stand Against Bullying (2018)

Just a few days ago, for some unknown reason, an alleged journalist with Fairfax’s Financial Review, by the name of Joe Aston, decided to write an asinine article full of hate speak, ignorance and petulance about Rugby League and the Bulldogs club.

The abhorrent tripe carried tones of racism, leant upon class warfare, stereotypes and worst of all, used rape as a form of mockery, when he referred to Rugby League as ‘rapeball’.

This ingrate is clearly endorsing bullying by writing such a childish and pathetic piece. The fact his employer read this disgraceful steaming pile of excrement and saw it fit to publish clearly shows that they endorse such commentary. His freedom to write such despicable matter is thanks to the many men and women who served and died for this country, including a large number of Rugby League players and officials from all over the country.

Whether this was done purely for the response is beside the point. This is clear bullying, plain and simple. There’s no reason for it, no purpose, no point, no value, nothing. It’s just the shameful unprompted and unprovoked bullying of a small minded fool.

The media in Australia has for decades been quick to defecate on the game at the slightest opportunity, with the mentality worsening with every year. And every time the game has adopted the approach of “ignore it and it will go away.”

Well no.

Ignoring it is not the answer anymore. Taking the moral highground may keep the games integrity in check, but unfortunately, staying quiet only serves to perpetuate more of this ugly attitude towards the game. When the NRL refuses to defend itself against these bullying antics, they are validating the behaviour, comments and perspective of the bullies.

And that encourages them to continue with their antiquated hate speak.

It’s time the game stands up and starts publicly putting these bullies in their place. Demand retractions. Demand public apologies and in severe cases of unprofessionalism, like this, demand the author is punished. This is slander and is blatant vilification.

So come Todd Greenberg, Peter Beattie, Bulldogs officials, NRL players, ex-players, media personalities. Defend our game! Stand up for our game!

Friday, 2 March 2018

A Matter Of Common Sense (2018)

Back in 2015, a story appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald which covered the story of Matt Lodge pleading guilty to a series of charges. The lawsuit stated:

"The lives of five innocent people, including a boy of nine-years-old, were forever changed by the vicious and violent attacks by defendant Matthew Lodge, a professional rugby player with a history of violence and animosity towards women,"

Without going into the disgraceful, vile and sickening details of his actions, which have been splashed around in the media again today in sordid detail, attention again has turned to the NRL, with questions being asked as to why Lodge has been allowed back to sign with the Broncos.

Todd Greenberg responded to them by saying:

“This young guy made a horrible mistake. He has paid a significant price for that. He’s a young man and I believe rugby league is part of the solution to help him turn his life around,” Greenberg said.

Lodge didn’t make a mistake. Mistakes have an element of accident about them. Lodge was callous. You don’t mistakenly threaten people’s lives. You don’t mistakenly bash someone. You don’t mistakenly resist arrest. Matt Lodge has serious, serious issues.

To some extent, second chances are justified, no doubt. But we have a cut and dried case here. Rugby League is not rehab for someone like this. By allowing him to do what he loves, play rugby league, his actions are being, indirectly, rewarded.

Rugby League is a business and a sport. It is not a solution for violent behaviour. His contract should never have been registered by the NRL.

It’s more absurd that someone like Todd Carney was essentially booted out of the game for being a bit of a wanker while on the drink after he was caught urinating into his own mouth in one of many dumb acts he did while drunk.

The NRL had the opportunity here to right their wrongs after they allowed Robert Lui to remain in the game after the second time he was charged for assaulting his partner in the space of 12 months, who was pregnant at the time. He should have been deregistered and never allowed to return. Instead he signed with the Cowboys.

It’s not the NRL’s responsibility to help turn these players lives around. Someone like that needs to be punished with jail time, not a bit of bad press. That’s not punishment Todd. A fine, I don’t care how big, is not punishment in light of what he did. By allowing him to play on what will be lucrative contracts compared to what he’d earn if he wasn’t in the NRL, will essentially pay for his crimes. That is disgraceful.

Players who commit crimes that harm or threaten the lives of others, they don’t deserve second chances until after they’ve served their time in jail and proven that they deserve such a chance.

There was also the cases of:
*Ryan Tandy being found guilty of match fixing in one game, he was banned for life with no second chance and nor should he have been.
*A 17 year old player called Jordan copped a 25 year ban for his involvement in an horrendous on field fight which saw him trying to stomp on a fallen opponents head. Two other teenagers in that game received 20 years bans each. They received no second chances after their crimes and nor should they have been.
*A 16 year old player who viciously bashed fellow teen Miki Hughes’ face beyond recognition, copped a 20 year ban. He was also charged by police for assault. He too received no second chance and nor should he have been.

What’s so special about Lodge that he deserves a second chance after what he did, but these others weren’t afforded such leniency (rightfully so)?

This transcends consistency. This is a matter of common sense. Lodge should not be playing. He should be doing time. He should never play the game again.

It really is that damn simple.