What’s Up With The Reffing?

My love of the game is strained right now.

It’s no secret that NRL is my game. I love it, live it, breathe it, need it, etc. Corey Parker is my player. The Brisbane Broncos are my team. The Queensland Maroons are my team. The New Zealand Kiwis are my team (even though I find it rather difficult to cheer against Parker).

That's my team. (SOURCE: Brisbane Broncos)

That’s my team. (SOURCE: Brisbane Broncos)

 

So it must be a big deal if I’m getting ticked off with the quality of league that’s been produced recently. The players have been great and the action has been get-off-your-arse intense. So what’s been ruining the game this year? The refereeing. The officiating of the game has created a sour atmosphere in NRL all season and it doesn’t look like it’s getting better after watching some of the rep games this week.

Whenever rep footy is on, I’m always excited to see what’s going on. The action is always hard-hitting and the intensity of the game is at a high – not to mention the changing dynamic of players swapping teammates for rep teams is always an exciting thing to watch. As if it’s following a 2014 conduct, however, the refereeing of these games have been… adequate, to say the least.

Throughout the year, controversies including the Alex McKinnon tackle where officiating from not only the referees but the higher powers themselves wrecked the love of the game, to the Dragons-Storm controversy that does not need any more explaining. Let’s not forget the shocker at the end of last year that cost the North Queensland Cowboys finals footy.

If I may put my two cents into, here are some things that the referees need to improve on if the game is meant to return to its elite state:

Video refereeing, a luxury to be used only when needed
Is it me or do the referees go up to the video refs for, like, no reason? I’ve seen way too many tries scored that are as clear as day successful, yet the referee must’ve sneezed or something because he feels it necessary to go up to the video referee. I’m sorry but if I was one of these video referees who has to go through the trouble of looking through a blatantly obvious try or no try, I’d be pissed off. Almost as pissed off as the fans in the stands and at home who have to endure it.

Rules are there to be enforced
If it was illegal to wear green shoes on a Wednesday, and everyone knew it was illegal to wear green shoes on a Wednesday, why would you therefore allow someone to wear green shoes on a Wednesday when you’re in a position of power? The other day, I noticed a team captain (won’t mention names) swear at a referee in the heat of a debate. Back in the day, that would’ve been like ten in the bin straight away. This team captain got away with it and the game continued like normal. Two words: Umm. What.

The grass is green, you should be able to see that
This has nothing to do with grass, but I feel as if the referees vision are just as bad as the put-on-lack-of-vision of the referees in WWE. I don’t know what an easy solution for this problem is other than to increase your peripheral vision or something. Seriously, refs, something has got to be done about this. Calls like the North Queensland 2013 tragedy should never, ever, ever happen again.

Please, NRL, you are arguably the most loved game in sports in all of Australia. Please don’t ruin that because the officiating is as shotty as a bazooka.

NRL referees. I have four words.

Should’ve Gone to Specsavers.

– by The Black Widow

Etiquette at a Rugby League Game

It’s the NRL Grand Final. Your team is up by 14 points. There’s only 10 minutes to go. Just as your team spirit is running high, someone behind you spills their beer on your hair and attempts to start a fight with you.

Game over. Your high is ruined.

Don't be like this fat moron, please.

Don’t be like this fat moron, please.

For any sports fanatic, the atmosphere of a big league game mainly depends on your experience as a crowd spectator. If everyone is cheering and generally having a good time, there is a positive vibe floating around the audience setting a good mood amongst those in attendance.

There are times, however, when a select few people have too much fun, get a bit rowdy and ruin the atmosphere by causing disturbances and alcohol-fuelled brawls. The issues that affected the etiquette at league games range from people unlawfully accessing the field of play to throwing projectiles at the field and fighting amongst themselves.

South Sydney Rabbitohs fan and league enthusiast, 21-year-old Lara McKenzie, recalls an instance of aggression at a league game that extended to her 1-year-old son.

“Two drunken fans of the opposing team were cursing and such,” she said, “(they) were calling me a bad mother for dressing my son in Rabbitoh’s colours.”

Although incidents such as the streaker at the State of Origin 2013 decider do happen, which involved a naked man accessing the field in the last minutes of the game which halted a try and greatly interrupted play, the Security Manager for the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sports Ground Trust John O’grady said the crowd behaviour at Allianz Stadium has been good as of late.

“Our eviction rates for any particular offenders have been pretty low… might average 2 per match.

“We have zero tolerance for any offences committed in the venues.”

O’grady continued to say that most of these offences are generally alcohol related, whether that be from high intoxication or from unlawfully bringing alcohol in to the premises.

Compared to the crowd’s behaviour around 5 years ago, however, the etiquette at Allianz Stadium has improved according to O’grady and his staff.

“The evidence that I get from my (junior) supervisors (suggests) the crowd behaviour has essentially gotten much better,” he said.

If there were a scuffle between two or three people, it would be quite easy to ignore it and continue watching the game. However, if the scuffle involved a majority of the section, the same could not be said. These all-out melees are rare with the stricter enforcement placed in today’s society and at Allianz Stadium, O’grady says that he hasn’t encountered a situation that was out of control.

“You may have a brawl that involves 3 or 4 people but not something that occupies a whole bay. Any issue that escalates that’s probably a little bit beyond security level… police take over.

“In general terms, major incidents that cause any levels of consternation is pretty low.”

Here are a few tips on how to properly behave at an NRL game – or any sports match for that matter:
[x] You have the right to cheer as loud as you want for your team just as much as everyone else does. Starting a fight with someone just because they support the other team is petty and stupid.
[x] It’s Australian to sling back a beer or two at a footy game with a pie and chips. Just don’t drink too much that you have to be wheeled out by security.
[x] Don’t throw crap onto the field or insult/yell at the players. It’s really disrespectful to the game that you should love if you’re in attendance.
[x] Don’t streak, for god’s sake. My poor Matty Scott deserved that try.
[x] Lastly, do not wear cocktail dresses and hooker heels to footy games. You will look stupid.

It’s always important not to forget that there are people in the audience that want to watch a good game of rugby league being played. So remember: drink responsibly and keep any unnecessary comments to yourself that might incite hatred or violence.

Stay safe and go the Brisbane Broncos for 2014!

– by The Black Widow

Summer Solstice Awards 2013

No, these aren’t awards for the best tan. The Summer Solstice Awards are awards exclusive to Solstice Satisfaction for the most outstanding players in NRL for the year. 2013 has been an up-and-down year for rugby league, what with the ASADA investigations and other dramas interrupting the game, but the game still goes on. The following are categories for the inaugural Summer Solstice Awards:

Fullback of the Year
Winger of the Year
Centre of the Year
Five-eighth of the Year
Halfback of the Year
Prop of the Year
Hooker of the Year
Second Rower of the Year
Lock of the Year
Captain of the Year
Coach of the Year
One to Watch in 2014
Player of the Year

Without further ado, here are your award recipients for 2013.

Fullback of the Year
Billy Slater, Melbourne Storm
2013 Melbourne Storm Headshots

One third of the Storm’s “Big 3”, Billy Slater has had – as per usual – an exceptional year in his role as fullback for the Melbourne Storm and also for the Queensland Maroons and Australian Kangaroos squad. His phenomenal footwork and excellent runs have rightfully earned him the title for Fullback of the Year for SolSat. See ya later Slater!
Runner up: Greg Inglis (South Sydney Rabbitohs)

Winger of the Year
Sisa Waqa, Melbourne Storm
2013 Melbourne Storm Headshots

Despite missing the first several rounds due to a hand injury, Sisa Waqa proved he was a deadly winger when he returned to the field, boasting 12 tries and 2582 metres run in the 2013 season. The #flyingfijian definitely looks to be comfortable in SolSat’s Winger of the Year position for the year.
Runner up: James McManus (Newcastle Knights)

Centre of the Year
Justin Hodges, Brisbane Broncos
Broncos_JustinHodges

Comparing his play to other centres, Justin Hodges definitely has his own unique touch to his role as centre for the Brisbane Broncos. Hodgo has a knack of busting out runs out of nowhere and he makes them look so seamlessly easy. Trying to put aside unnecessary #bronxnation bias aside, Hodgo has earned himself the right of Centre of the Year.
Runner up: Jamie Lyon (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)

Five-eighth of the Year
Johnathon Thurston, North Queensland Cowboys
Cowboys_JohnathonThurston

Perhaps the most valuable player in rugby league today, there was no question in my mind that Johnathon Thurston deserved this recognition. He serves as the captain, goalkicker and playmaker for the Cowboys and in his spare time, plays the important role of father to his newborn baby. It is with great humility that I give Thurston this award for 2013.
Runner up: Kieran Foran (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)

Halfback of the Year
Cooper Cronk, Melbourne Storm
2013 Melbourne Storm Headshots

One of the most impressive players when it comes to form in 2013 is this man, Cooper (Donkey) Cronk. Acting as the key playmaker for the Storm, Cronk has been one of the key factors for the Storm’s success in recent years. I dare anyone to challenge this as I award Cooper Cronk for Halfback of the Year.
Runner up: Adam Reynolds (South Sydney Rabbitohs)

Prop of the Year
Matt Scott, North Queensland Cowboys
Cowboys_MattScott

To me, a prop should be a rough powerhouse who charges into a pack of defenders with no fear and will only be brought down by two or more players. Matt Scott fits that definition to a tee and that is why I have chosen the Cowboys co-captain to be Prop of the Year for 2013.
Runner up: Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs)

Hooker of the Year
Cameron Smith, Melbourne Storm
2013 Melbourne Storm Headshots

In my opinion, the role of the Hooker is one of the most important in the team. It should be no surprise to anyone that the Storm, Maroons and Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith is awarded the Hooker of the Year title as he continues to prove why he is probably the greatest player in the game today.
Runner up: Jake Friend (Sydney City Roosters)

Second Rower of the Year
Sonny Bill Williams, Sydney City Roosters

Roosters_SonnyBill

Probably the main reason why the Chookies have been in top form all season is the acquisition of this man, Sonny Bill Williams. The man is known for his hard hits and his out-of-nowhere offloads, sometimes referred to as “Sonny Bill offloads”. This large brickhouse of a man takes out the Second Rower of the Year award with ease.
Runner up: Nate Myles (Gold Coast Titans)

Lock of the Year
Corey Parker, Brisbane Broncos
Broncos_CoreyParker

There was absolutely no bias in choosing Corey Parker as Lock of the Year. The Bird has reached top form in his career in 2013 with outstanding performances in both the Broncos and the Maroons squad. He continues to show why he may be one of the most underrated players in the game today and arguably the best Lock in the game.
Runner up: Paul Gallen (Cronulla Sharks)

Captain of the Year
Johnathon Thurston and Matt Scott
Cowboys_JohnathonThurston Cowboys_MattScott
As one of the many league fans who are advocates of the co-captain gimmick, I happily award the Captain(s) of the Year title to both Thurston and Scott. The Cowboys started the year in the bottom rungs of the ladder before catapulting into the top 8 and I’d like to think that is largely due to the roles Thurston and Scott played as co-captains of the squad.
Runner up: Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm)

Coach of the Year
Craig Bellamy, Melbourne Storm
Storm_CraigBellamy
The man may be a bit aggressive at times but he knows how to get the job done, as made evident by the Storm’s steamrolling success in recent years. The intensity he takes to the game rubs off on his players well and that is why Bellamy easily earns the recognition of Coach of the Year.
Runner up: Geoff Toovey (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)

One to Watch in 2014
Corey Oates, Brisbane Broncos
Broncos_CoreyOates
In his handful of appearances in first grade footy for the Broncos, Corey Oates has never failed to impress me with solid performance after solid performance in his role as winger. It is clear that the 18-year-old has his whole career ahead of him and if he continues to play in 2014 like he did this year, the Broncos will be in the top 8 next year.
Runner up: George Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs)

Player of the Year
Cooper Cronk, Melbourne Storm
2013 Melbourne Storm Headshots
As difficult as this decision was to make, I eventually gave in and chose the man who has clearly been one of the top players in the entire NRL for 2013. The intense no-nonsense Cooper Cronk has earned the Summer Solstice award for Player of the Year in 2013. Congratulations Cooper!
Runner up: Corey Parker (Brisbane Broncos)

And there you have the first recipients for the Summer Solstice awards in 2013! As always, discussion is welcome so feel free to comment on who you thought deserved these awards. Good day, SolSatters!

– by The Black Widow

NRL Semi Finals Preview

16 teams. 1 premiership title. Only 4 teams remain. We are closer to finding out who will be the NRL Telstra Premiers for 2013 as we are now in the semi final round of footy. We are guaranteed new premiers as the reigning Melbourne Storm were upset by the Newcastle Knights last weekend. Who will go onto one of the most anticipated grand finals of recent years?

Semi-final time baby!

Semi-final time baby!

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

Two of the top form teams collide at ANZ Stadium tonight in what is sure to be an all-out nail biter between the Bunnies and the Eagles. The Bunnies have not tasted grand final glory since 1971 (I wasn’t even born then!) while the Eagles have been finals mainstays year after year, last tasting grand final flory only two years ago defeating the Warriors.

The Bunnies have had a week off after securing their semi final presence by beating the Storm in the qualifier. This time off not only serves the whole team some good but especially fullback Greg Inglis who is overcoming an injury. Their game against the Storm was challenged by many rugby league fans alike and it is debatable that they have been playing at 100%. In my sweet and humble opinion, the Bunnies have been playing good footy – not bad, but not excellent either. If they want to break their premiership drought, they’re going to have to find that passion and hunger that is evident in other teams (Newcastle Knights) to beat the ever impressive Sea Eagles.

One of the things that I admire about the Sea Eagles are their loyal followers, and it’s hard not to argue that fact seeing as they have impressed year after year. While the player to watch for the Eagles has often been Brett Stewart, I would argue that the one to watch in the Eagles side is Kieran Foran – the (proud Kiwi) man has been a force to be reckoned with in recent weeks and has been in top form in the latter portion of the year. He has been a bloody outstanding five-eighth so John Sutton will have his work cut out for him.

SolSat’s Prediction: South Sydney Rabbitohs

This is a tentative tip, not because I am unsure of the Bunnies ability to win but because the Eagles are that damn good that I wouldn’t be surprised to see if I was wrong. I am basing 90% of my choice on the fact that since the beginning of the year, I have said that the Bunnies will make the grand final so I am sticking to that prediction. If I am wrong, however… there is no shame in losing a tip against the Eagles. Here’s to a good game of footy at my second most favourite stadium in the world.

Sydney City Roosters vs. Newcastle Knights

It is the premiership favourites versus the veteran underdogs as the Chookies collide with the Knights. The minor premiers for 2013 (the Roosters) last captured grand final glory in 2002 led by league great Brad Fittler. Coincidentally, the previous year’s Premiership was won by the Newcastle Knights who were led at the time by Fittler’s main ‘rival’, Andrew “Joey” Johns.

The Roosters have been favoured to win the grand final this year with the acquisition of solid footy players like Sonny Bill Williams and James Maloney – with the former, I would just like to point out that if I saw that man running at me, I would gladly relinquish the ball and put my head between my legs. Their side have incredible talent that could have this one easily if they knew how to execute their talents effectively, and not choke. Not that that’s a reference to anyone…

The Knights were written off earlier in the year with a decent start to the year, nothing outstanding, nothing bad. With the added pressure of making the top 8 later in the year, the Knights were slapped awake and went on a steamroller, their most impressive victory coming last week against the Storm. With this being Buderus’ last year in the NRL (for the second time), the Knights are keen to make Danny’s last year a golden one.

SolSat’s Prediction: Sydney City Roosters

I’m tipping with my head on this one because my heart is solely behind the Knights. I’m hoping for Buderus to go out with a win in the semi final and maybe even a grand final win but if not, that’s okay – there is no embarrassment about losing to the Chookies who have been hovering around the top rung of the ladder all year.

I haven’t been this excited about footy finals in ages, and one semi is being played right now. Peace out, SolSaters!

– by The Black Widow