Across multiple press conferences this weekend, coaches of multiple teams took officials to task to continue a worrying trend, that of blaming referees rather than taking responsibility.
Let me first say I believe the Storm were very hard done by on Saturday night, particularly with the penalty awarded very late in the game after the Storm drove Newcastle into touch after the referee had called held.
In my opinion there was momentum, and there should not have been a call of held made.
The fact however is that the penalty was given, and the Storm were unable to repel just one more set of six on their own line.
Despite what I perceived as a poor decision from the officials, surely a side of Melbourne’s title aspirations should not lose to a side of Newcastle’s stature, after holding a ten point lead with three minutes to go.
On Sunday the Sharks were very hard done by when it came to the men in the middle. Some baffling calls were made, or not made, but the fact is if Politoni had passed the ball to the flying Michael Gordon, the Sharks complete yet another upset.
Although refereeing errors unfortunately seem to play a part in deciding games far more often than they should, surely a quick mention, and a lesson learned is more valuable to finals preparations.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy is likely to be fined after claiming bias against his side by referee Ashley Klein.
I fully understand his anger at the decisions by Klien, but the decisions would have been but an afterthought has his side been able to negotiate that final set of six.
I have spoken to multiple fans of multiple teams and all seem to agree there have been times this season their side has been hard done by in terms of decisions from the referees.
Referees are human and errors will continue to happen, but these errors can no longer be excuses by coaches, who should focus their energy on finding ways to kill the play rather than spraying referees.
This is of course nothing new. Last season the Cowboys claimed there was a conspiracy against them after the Sharks scored a try they shouldn’t have had an opportunity to score.
The Cowboys had multiple sets of six on the Sharks line in the second half, and had they managed to convert one of those chances, you have to believe the seventh tackle try would have been relegated to a footnote in the game.
This growing trend of finding an excuse or blaming others is worrying.
It seems as though the first instinct by players and their managers is to deflect blame, sometimes on the papers for reporting indiscretions, instead of admitting fault and moving on.
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler even pleaded with the NRL match review committee not to charge five-eighth Josh Reynolds, despite one of the most blatant acts of tripping ever seen in the game.
Instead of asking the committee to over look a deliberate act of foul play, Hasler should have held Reynolds to account and ensure the act is not repeated in the future.
As for the growing number of refereeing errors on display, perhaps it is time for referee’s boss Tony Archer and NRL officials to finally admit the on field performances by officials are not up to scratch and start holding them to account.
I may be way off the mark here, and in the minority, but I’d not only find it refreshing, but totally respect, hearing a coach, player or referee putting their hand up, admitting they made an error, and working toward fixing it rather than finding someone else to blame.
For all the negative press Ricky Stuart gets, at least he’s up front in admitting at times his side have not been playing to first grade standard. Whether or not he is able to turn it around, is a whole other story, and something for another day.