The NRL’s head of football elite competitions has waved away questions asking whether the referee’s decision to not sin bin South Sydney captain Sam Burgess was correct, saying there is no blanket rule for sin binning.
Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess gave away five of Souths’ eight penalties in the first half of their clash against the Canberra Raiders on Saturday night, including four in a row, but somehow remained on the field.
During his weekly football briefing, Graham Annesely refused to say if the referee made the right or wrong decision to not send Burgess to the bin but admitted there was a case for seeing the Rabbitohs captain spend 10 minutes on the side line.
“I think there was certainly a case for sin-binning, absolutely,” Annesley said on Monday afternoon (20 May). “I think there was probably another case in that game a little bit later when the same option could have been considered but I am not standing here today saying that those decisions were either right or wrong.
“That is the role of the referee’s coach to have a look at the circumstances of those penalties and whether they believe the referee took the right option or not.”
39 per cent of the 125 penalties awarded across the eight NRL games over the weekend was in the ‘red zone’ between the 20-metre mark and the goal line, which Annesley said was a worrying trend. Annesley said the referees hadn’t been told to not send players to the sin bin for consistent breaches of the laws.
“That is a worry and we are aware of it,” he said. “We are telling clubs publically that this is an unacceptable approach to this area of the game and it will continue to result in more penalties.
“If this continues, we will no doubt see more players sent to the sin bin. The referees have not been instructed to do anything specifically other than using their own judgement.”
Despite the trend, referees only sent two players to the sin bin across the weekend and when asked by journalists to comment on whether the referee had made the right or wrong decision to not send Sam Burgess for repeated offences, he said there was no blanket rule for referees to send a player for repeated penalties.
“You can not have a blanket rule of sin-binning a player for consistent penalties because it would depend on the field position of those penalties and it would depend on the circumstances of those penalties,” he said.
“Yes, there was a case for that to happen but it is not my job to say if it was right or wrong. That is a matter of judgement the referee has used in the circumstances of the game.”
Annesley said the referees’ performances will be assessed in the next 24 hours.