Canberra Raiders fans are still in disbelief after a calamitous refereeing stuff-up during last night’s NRL Grand Final tilted the game in the Sydney Roosters’ favour.
To convey the perspective of the upset: I am writing this from Melbourne while my New South Welsh colleagues take the day off. The fury has radiated across state lines.
With scores tied at 8-8 with fewer than ten minutes remaining, the Raiders were pressing the Roosters deep into their own territory when a huge bomb bounced off a player and into the hands of Canberra captain Josh Hodgson.
Referee Ben Cummins seemed to wave his arm around in the air, signalling six again – that is, the Raiders were granted six more tackles before a turnover.
Until the ruling wasn’t six again. As Canberra’s Jake Wighton dove into another tackle, expecting the opportunity to safely take a set, the ref ruled that was actually a turnover.
Perhaps riding their outrageous good fortune, the Roosters eventually fought back, winning 14-8.
Speaking after the match, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was more reserved than many others would be in the situation.
“If it is the wrong call – and I’ve only seen it once – there’s not a referee that would try to make a mistake if it was a mistake,” he said.
“I hope that if it is wrong, I hope he’s not the spotlight of this evening.”
Stuart also called on the media to report on the referee’s call without imposing his own beliefs on the matter.
— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) October 6, 2019
Those are the facts of the matter. Now, let us express the emotion of the decision, by a quick perusal of League twitter:
Signalling six again & then changing their mind is the biggest referring blunder in grand final history…
— Martin Lang (@Martin_Lang11) October 6, 2019
That may well be the biggest officiating blunder I have ever seen in a grand final in any code … truly bizarre #NRLGF
— Glenn Mitchell (@MitchellGlenn) October 6, 2019
What a terrible way for a Grand Final to be decided????
The referees should be ashamed of themselves.
— KidCowboy???? (@Kidcowboy2) October 6, 2019
— Daniel MacPherson (@DanMacPherson) October 6, 2019
I poured myself a drink… a tequila… at 10pm on a school night… to deal with that shit. #sixagain
— Breanna (@beerexie) October 6, 2019
That was a real shame. It robbed the Raiders of a potential premiership, and put a dark cloud over the Roosters win. Appalling refereeing. #NRLGrandFinal
— Patrick Brammall (@PatrickBrammall) October 6, 2019
— asch’lye (@tanasashtray) October 6, 2019
maybe the real six again was the friends we made along the way
— ????.????. ???????????????????????? (@ahcayley) October 6, 2019
Don’t think for a second that Rusty didn’t have his say, either.
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) October 6, 2019
So that’s two on the trot for the Roosters, and a fanbase-defining moment for the Canberra squad. See you in 2020.Image: Dean Lewins / AAP Image