PENRITH great and Wests Tigers assistant coach Royce Simmons has accused NRL referees boss Daniel Anderson of changing the rules of rugby league without authorisation in his controversial obstruction interpretation.
The debate over the edict that any collision with a defender initiated by a decoy runner would result in a disallowed try affected almost every game at the weekend and has just about usurped the ASADA investigation as the game’s number one talking point.
Rugby League Week understands players at one leading club have discussed contacting their rivals over the next week to form a united lobby against the crackdown.
Simmons says: “Generally when you change the rules in the game, you have to go through the International Federation or something to change them.
“To me, it seems like a rule change has been made. Referees, in my opinion, are there to interpret the rules and not make the rules.
“Tries are being rubbed out that haven’t been rubbed out in all the time I’ve been involved in the game, since I was in under sixes.
“Second-man plays have been in the game a long time. I’m not saying it’s going to make the game better or worse or anything but this is fact.
“Some of the calls, I think, have been too far from where the action’s taken place. I’m all for getting it right and I guess we’ve got to go through a procedure where we’re getting it right because it certainly wasn’t right last year.
“But we seem to have gone from one extreme to another.”
Anderson admits the issue is likely to be discussed by the NRL competition committee later this month – but the interpretation will stay at least until then.
He hinted on radio last Sunday that he will give video referees back their discretion when he is confident there are enough ex-players in the box with enough experience in their new roles.
Speaking on the ABC on Sunday, he said referees had “done well” this year but that obstruction represented “the bull in the china shop knocking everything off the shelves”.
He admitted that Cooper Cronk’s disallowed round three touchdown in round three was a “definite try” under the previous interpretation.
“We want the Cooper Cronk try to be allowed – but how do we do that without compromising other components?” he said.
“It cannot change right now … we need a bigger sample (of incidents).”
Anderson said “this is not just my game in my backyard”.
He said criticism from Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart at the weekend didn’t “reflect accurately what has gone on since November last year”.
* NB: video referees were subsequently given permission to award tries, at their discretion, when a collision between a decoy runner and a defender did not obstruct the defence.
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK