The bunker has to go, because League fans should be talking about guys like Addo-Carr, Marshall and Mitchell on Monday mornings, not refereeing.
Owen Craigie

24 Jul 2018 - 4:08 PM  UPDATED 24 Jul 2018 - 4:43 PM

At a time of the year when we should be talking about the incredible performances of guys like Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Benji Marshall, and getting excited about the upcoming finals series, all anyone can talk about is the referees. 

Something’s got to change.


Put the Bunker to Bed

I’ve never seen anything like what happened on Friday night in the Sharks v Raiders game. It’s quite ridiculous.

It was one of those double-take moments where you can’t quite believe what’s unfolding. The sideline ref puts his flag up, then brings it back down, the Sharks keep playing, the Raiders almost stop, and Cronulla scores a try. Then it goes to the bunker and more time is wasted.

We’ve got to get rid of the bunker. It’s got to go because everyone’s relying too much on it.

We’ve got to get rid of the bunker. It’s got to go because everyone’s relying too much on it.

It’s destroyed the free-flowing football we love watching - every decision that’s now on the field, goes back to the video ref.

The video ref was only designed for tries. Now they’re going back one and two plays and seeing what’s happening there and it’s just a shemozzle.


Inconsistent Reffing

I agree 100 per cent with Ricky Stuart blowing up, because at the end of the day, these decisions can cost the clubs money.


It can cost them for a home semi-final and there’s a lot of money involved in that. Some of these clubs really need that extra bit of coin. If it’s gonna come down to a stupid and ridiculous decision, that refs are too incompetent to make, it can ruin your season.

It’s hard to know what’s going to happen next. At the moment it’s like a lucky dip, you put your hand in the box and they draw out how the referee is going to ref the game. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s ridiculous.

If that was happening in the common world and society, people would be getting in big trouble. Some of the decisions that they’re making – you could see on the weekend, the play was happening right in front of the sideline ref and he’s right there and all of a sudden they pull back good passes. I don’t know what’s going on.


Overshadowing the Finals

We are only a few rounds away from the finals and there are some incredible performances on the field, but all anyone’s talking about is the referees.

It takes the shine away and we’re not gonna see players play at their best because some refs don’t agree with the refs that’re gonna ref the week after. No one’s on the same page and the players and coaches have no idea what the ruling is going to be.

Fans of the game should not be talking about refereeing on a Monday morning. But it just shows how much of an issue it is. It shows how much damage this is all causing. 

I think it should go back to the way it was, and we have to get rid of this bunker.


What Happened to the Footy?

I don’t know what sort of deal there is between KFC and the bunker, but I’m sick of seeing KFC come up because it just shows how much the bunker’s involved in the game. If you’re sponsoring the bunker, you’re getting a crazy amount of air time because of how many penalties and referrals there are in the game. It’s got to be fixed. 

I don’t know if the refs are frightened or they’re scared of making a decision there and then on the spot. I just think the bunker’s taken away all the power from the refs at the oval.

Some people have suggested a captain’s challenge as a way of safeguarding against a howler, but why should we need that? A captain’s challenge also means we’re starting to get a bit like the NFL now, throwing the flag in and challenging certain things.

We love the game of Rugby League because of the contact and the skill level. We don’t want to be sitting there and watching an 80-minute game of football be turned into a four hour game because of stoppages and referees and commercials getting in the way from people making challenges. You shouldn’t be going down that path.

We’re a unique game of Rugby League in itself We shouldn’t be following the footsteps of NFL. But that’s where it’s ending up. I can’t believe the game’s going down this path.

Rugby League at the highest level has come so far and is such a different game to the one I played in.

I see blokes on the weekend with that much skill doing freaky things, but getting pulled up for it. I see blokes putting on clean shots but getting sent off. I don’t know what on earth is going on – it’s becoming a major problem now.



Owen Craigie is a Gamilaroi man and former NRL star. Owen has played for the Newcastle Knights, Wests Tigers and South Sydney Rabbitohs. He is co-host of NITV's weekly Rugby League panel program, Over The Black Dot.

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