It?s Official: the NRL have lost
the plot -Editorial

Incredible. That was the first word that came to mind when Channel 10?s Tony Peters announced that the NRL has decided to issue the Brisbane Broncos with a breach notice regarding Sunday?s game against the Wests Tigers. The NRL has deemed that replacement player Corey Parker ignored two directives from the NRL match officials to stay off the field until the heavily concussed Shane Webcke could be helped off the field of play. The breach notice declares that the Broncos will lose the two competition points they gained in the 32-24 victory at Campbelltown Stadium.

This decision borders on the insane.

Just cast your mind back to Round 2 and the mountains of bad press the NRL copped over their match officials ineptitude over video refereeing decisions and the like. This onslaught saw NRL bigwigs David Gallop and Graham Annesley publicly criticise and apologise for the errors their own colleagues made. The officials at the centre of the ?stuff-ups? were then stood down from active duty ? and the league managed to satisfy the media microscope.

This weekend, we saw the video ref redeem themselves (especially in the Nth Queensland-Canberra game) with the right calls, only for another set of match officials to plunge the league?s credibility into further depths. With Webcke barely able to stand let alone walk off the field, the Broncos trainers were doing their best to get him to the sideline in a timely manner. Referee Shayne Hayne apparently decided that with Webcke well behind the play, then the game should continue and the Broncos kicked for touch. Parker then entered the fray and before Webcke was off the field, he barged over for a Brisbane try. Did I mention Webcke was still on the field? Just where on the field is the key and doing what is even more important. In plain English:

HE WAS BEING ASSISTED OFF THE FIELD HEAVILY CONCUSSED AND 50 METRES AWAY FROM THE PLACE PARKER SCORED!

Now wouldn?t common sense realise that Webcke was having no impact on the play, he probably didn?t even know what day it was! Plus the Tigers were in no way disadvantaged by defending against a groggy wobbly legged prop 50 metres down field.

When the North Queensland Cowboys were punished for an extra man on the field a few years ago, they were rightfully stripped of their winning points, because their 14th player was involved actively in the play. Here Webcke is hardly conscious and the referee is obligated to wait until he has left the field before starting play again, especially when the rules allow Webcke to be replaced without taking up an interchange.

So the Broncos got a free interchange but lose two points because the NRL has lost the plot on an incident that isn?t even a molehill let alone the mountain they may claim it to be.

The decision is wrong and the NRL needs to seriously reconsider how they run the game. They claimed they were handcuffed by the ?drug scandal? at the Bulldogs mid-week, yet they exercise ridiculous excessive and ill-advised sanctions on a situation that even the Tigers Scott Sattler openly said had no impact on the result of the game.

A final thought to consider...

If the NRL can justify taking two hard earned competition points off the Broncos for something that only occurred because their match officials failed to control the game accordingly, then what is to stop them from awarding the Wests Tigers one competition point for the NRL?s match officials failing to control last weekend?s Souths-Tigers game accordingly?

The answer?

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Warrick NICOLSON ========================= Freelance Sports Journalist NICOLSON SPORTS CONSULTANCY Ph: 0402 851 485 Fax: 02 9653 1483 [email protected]

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