Referees are “petrified” of being scolded and that was the cause of the shambles that robbed Wests Tigers of victory against the Cowboys, according to Phil Gould.
The rugby league icon has unleashed after the Bunker awarded North Queensland a penalty in the dying seconds of Sunday’s Cowboys-Tigers clash in Townsville due to an escort, resulting in Valentine Holmes kicking a penalty goal to pinch a 27-26 win.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley argued that referee Chris Butler’s decision to allow a captain’s challenge was correct.
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But he also admitted the decision by Bunker official Ashley Klein to award the Cowboys a penalty for Asu Kepaoa obstructing Kyle Feldt was wrong.
Gould believes referees being so terrified of making incorrect calls, and therefore being too reliant on the Bunker, was the root of the Cowboys-Tigers debacle.
“We’re getting more and more and more reliant on technology and the Bunker, and the philosophy from those who run the referees and tell them how they should handle certain situations has meant that referees have relied more and more and more on technology rather than making a decision themselves,” Gould said on Nine’s 100% Footy.
“The referee should have had that matter in hand, just blown full-time, no one would have complained, we move on, Wests Tigers had a brilliant win, they won, that’s all done.
“But because the referees are petrified — and I mean petrified — of being singled out for criticism (they love to refer to the Bunker).”
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Gould then claimed there was a divide in the referees department concerning strategy.
“Remember, the Bunker is there to protect referees. That’s its primary objective. That’s why there is a section of referees … that has been pushing the management of our game to more and more use and more and more importance,” Gould said.
“There is also a core of referees that is totally against the philosophy of it, that want to be left to be making the decision themselves.
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“What you had (in the Cowboys-Tigers game) was the referee saying, ‘Well, I’m just going to dump this up to the Bunker. Whatever happens. He’s called a challenge’.
“Well he can’t challenge it; there’s nothing to challenge.
“(The referee) should have just ruled full-time.”
Paul Gallen also called out Butler for being scared.
“That referee lost control of that situation. He totally lost control,” Gallen said.
“He blew the whistle and then as soon as (Cowboys captain) Chad Townsend went to him … he went, ‘Oh, thank God! Thank God I can get out of this. I can send it to the Bunker and it’s not my decision’. He totally lost control. If he had the cojones about him he would have just ended the game there.”
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