Off the Wall

In my last column I warned that we surrender - and especially surrender in the name of political correctness - the  very "essence" of our game.

Well, sadly, on Wednesday night a referee who is just not up to the required standard, and a CEO and an administration that is profoundly, and increasingly, disappointing, put the very "essence" of the greatest game of all in real peril.

I was impressed by Paul Gallen's robust defence of the game, its history - and the "essence" of that history. And Mal Meninga and Cameron Smith have made similar comments....and so has just about every writer and commentator in the game.

I thought the sending to the sin bin of four players for what was a very mild "incident" was over the top, and frankly appalling. And I thought the public "warning" to both teams from the CEO of the NRL a few hours before the game was unnecessary, and frankly undesirable.

If Dave Smith thought it necessary to "warn" both teams then he could have put in a call to Laurie Daly and Mal Meninga - or sent all 34 players a text message. But to do so publicly, as he chose to do, just put more pressure on the referees and other officials.

The result of this, and the over-reaction to what happened in Game One, led to four players being sent to the sin bin...and a disruption a great game did not deserve. I don't care whether you follow the Blues, Maroons or neither, you didn't deserve, and the massive audience watching the game on television did not deserve what happened.

Rugby league is not "pass the parcel", it is not "touch football", and it is not "tunnel ball". It is a body contact sport. Always has been - and always must be.

When played at the highest level it is in intense. Tempers fray, short fuses are ignited. But so what!!!

The incident on Wednesday night probably merited one player being put on report, or sin binned. What happened was an embarrassment - what is even more embarrassing is the way it is being robustly defended by Daniel Anderson and his NRL bosses.

Guys, when you are in far too deep, just stop digging!!! The NRL needs to get itself out this mess - and it needs to do so now!

The very "essence" of our great game is being undermined. That must stop!

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