Let's not be betrayed by bunker technology
WHEN the famed bunker was introduced to the NRL at the start of season 2016, nobody expected the $2 million investment to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. But most hoped it would at least improve decision making.
Now, after the 21st round is completed tonight, if fans were given a vote I reckon the majority would prefer the bunker be banished. Those whose team is still in the hunt for a premiership are dead-set scared a bunker blunder could cost them the title.
And, from what we have witnessed in recent weeks, fans have every reason to feel insecure. In simple terms, the bunker is not working.
Agreed, teething problems with the bunker were always expected. But surely after six months those pressing the buttons should have ironed out most of the gremlins.
Two decisions within four days last week have left us not only scratching our heads but wondering whether the bunker has provided the game many plusses at all.
In any previous era of the game, operating under any rule book interpretation, both Rabbitohs winger Joe Burgess and Broncos rookie Herman Ese'ese would have been awarded a try in their particular games last week. Both were, to the naked eye and in the mind of most rational judges, a try.
But not according to the respective bunker judges, Ashley Klein and Bernard Sutton. And not according to referees boss Tony Archer either.
Archer's usually waffly responses to controversial decisions from the bunker this season are no doubt correct - according to the rule book. But they just don't make any sense.
And the reason they don't make sense to the fans is because the rule book was written a squillion years ago, and long before slow-motion replays, freeze frames and a dozen different camera angles were even a figment of the imagination of some techno genius.
Ask any rugby league fan whether they would prefer a 4-2 scoreline or a 24-20 scoreline, and the answer is obvious. Ask any rugby league fan whether they thought Burgess and Ese'ese scored tries last week, and the answer - again - is obvious.
Technology in our modern world is wonderful. To someone like me who first watched TV in its crudest form back in the 1950s, the development has been absolutely mind blowing.
And while that same technology has given NRL lovers some breathtaking moments, it has also removed the capacity of the referee to rely on his feel for the game, and common sense.
As someone once said, if it looks like a pig, grunts like a pig and smells like a pig, it is probably a pig. That same theory should always apply to a rugby league try.