31 July 2019

NRL must stamp out inconsistent rulings or risk losing fans

| Tim Gavel
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Rough justice?: Raiders back Nick Cotric was sent off and outed for three weeks for a dangerous tackle. But the same sort of tackle by Manly’s lock Jake Trbojevic drew a much lesser sanction. Photo: Supplied.

Switch on social media anytime during a televised sporting contest and the emotions are often overwhelming to the extreme, ranging from elation to despair.

Seconds after a fixture is finished the Twittersphere erupts and in the wake of a loss there are calls for a coach to be axed or drastic changes to be made. More often than not we are talking about male sport, rarely does it happen in women’s sport.

Most of the time when the men don’t perform to expectation, the collective fan-anger subsides and life goes on until the following weekend.

Historically in Canberra, we have seen supporters walk away from their teams for reasons other than results. The Raiders lost plenty of long-term fans during and after Super League, and it has taken a generation to win back support to the level it once was.

The Brumbies alienated supporters with a number of actions including removing the ACT from the club name, lifting ticket prices, and moving fans away from their regular seats.

In recent times though, I have noticed a growing number of supporters expressing frustration at on-field decision-making by officials and citing it on social media as a reason why they walk away from a particular sport.

To some extent I can understand the frustration, exemplified by recent NRL decisions.

For the life of me, I can’t see the difference in the tackle made by Manly lock Jake Trbojevic on Melbourne Storm player Jahrome Hughes, and the dangerous tackle made by Raiders back Nick Cotric on the Dragons player, Tim Lafai. Cotric was sent off and Trbojevic was put on report.

Trbojevic was allowed to stay on the field following the tackle on the Storm fullback, before being hit with a grade one dangerous throw charge, which carries 75 demerit points with an early guilty plea. This means Trbojevic is free to play next weekend. Yet for a similar tackle Cotric was sent off and suspended for three weeks.

The inconsistency is driving fans mad.

Then there is the Hudson Young eye gouge for which the Raiders forward is serving a five-game ban, while North Queensland forward Josh McGuire, for the same offence, escaped a suspension for a contrary conduct charge and was fined $3350.

Jarrod Croker has also been the victim of two old-fashioned ‘coat hanger’ tackles in consecutive games.

Whether irate Raiders fans actually abandon the game because of the obvious inconsistencies remains to be seen in the cold hard light of day.

I seriously doubt it, given the fighting spirit displayed by the team, especially with hardly any ball in the first 15 minutes against an in-form Panthers outfit.

But the NRL must address these inconsistencies to ensure loyal fans stay with the code, or risk losing them forever in frustration.

Original Article published by Tim Gavel on The RiotACT.

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