Saturday 20 January 2018 / 12:20 PM

Rule, not refs, to blame in 40/20 blow-up

Canterbury’s dramatic 18-16 defeat of Parramatta at ANZ Stadium on Friday night was overshadowed by a controversial call in the dying minutes that denied the Eels a comeback victory.

Chris Sandow piloted an extraordinary 40/20 with two minutes remaining, before taking the quick-tap and diving over for what would have been the match-winning try. But it was pulled back because Eels winger Vai Toutai accepted a pass from the ball-boy before firing it to Sandow; the rules, introduced at the start of the season, stipulate the ball must be placed on the sideline for the attacking team to collect.

In this instance, the referees followed the letter of the law – and they made the right call. The young ball-boy – who was reportedly distraught after the incident – is certainly not to blame; the fate of a match should not ride on the actions of a kid who is probably no older than 12. This poor lad is probably feeling like he has ended his beloved team’s season.

The fault lies with the rule-makers who brought in the ridiculous changes in the first place. The quick-tap change from a 40/20 has garnered plenty of criticism already this season, and it was only a matter of time before it caused a flashpoint controversy like the one we saw last night.

Receiving possession back from a 40/20 is a big enough advantage as it is; as was rightly pointed out in the commentary, it doesn’t give a team the right to score a try. The inconsistency in the rule that depends on a ball-boy makes it a blight on the game, and one that needs to be overturned before the finals. In the meantime, the NRL needs to swallow it’s pride for a change and admit it was wrong for lumbering the game with this stupid rule, and offer an apology to the Eels and the ball-boy. 

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