The NRL will not return to using one central referee despite controversy blighting Sydney Roosters’ 14-8 Grand Final win over Canberra Raiders.
Assistant Gerard Sutton and touch judge Chris Butler advised head referee Ben Cummins to overturn his late call to hand the Raiders another six tackles, handing possession back to the Roosters, who promptly went up the other end to claim the win.
Canberra boss Ricky Stuart was diplomatic afterwards and insisted he would neither blame the officials for a heart-breaking loss nor seek talks with the league’s head of football Graham Annesley.
Speaking after the match, Annesley’s assessment was the right decision had been reached – a review of replays showed the ball had come off a Canberra player – but in unsatisfactory circumstances.
“That meant six tackles should not have been awarded,” he said. “But I accept it created confusion among the Canberra players.
“It’s obviously very messy and very disappointing for the game as a whole that we’re now talking about an incident where they actually got the decision right – but they got it right in a way that’s caused controversy.
“But if they had not corrected the decision and the Raiders had scored, I’d probably still be sitting here telling you a try had been scored off an incorrect decision.
“But from the moment it happened, the outcome was going to be very unpalatable.
“One of the reasons we have multiple officials on the field is to try to get decisions right.”
— NRL (@NRL) October 6, 2019
Before 2009, NRL games were controlled by a single referee, and Annesley felt the Grand Final flashpoint actually highlighted the flaw of the old system.
“If we’d had one referee tonight we would have got the decision wrong,” he added.
“It’s not possible to avoid errors. Errors by their very definition aren’t intended to happen.
“So if anyone can sit in this chair and tell you they can prevent errors from occurring, then we should be hiring them immediately.”