If you didn’t see or hear about the performance of NRL referee Ben Cummins in the Panthers vs Eels match at CUA Stadium, let me touch on just a few of the mistakes he made.
Obviously in a poor frame of mind to start the game, Cummins proceeded to blow 4 penalties in the first 6 minutes after kick-off – immediately putting players and spectators on the back foot. This could be forgiven if the consistency and correct rulings were made for the majority of the game – bad sadly this didn’t eventuate.
However, Cummins went on to disallow two Panthers tries, both of which could have just as easily been awarded. He mis-called plenty of dropped ball incorrectly, twice costing the Eels possession late in the game when the pressure was on – commentators, fans and players all scratching their heads as the poor decisions continued to flow.
Understandably, the game got more and more heated – as players began to become frustrated at the continued poor calls. As the push and shove broke up, again Cummins failed to deal with it correctly. As Penrith’s Priddis and Parramatta’s Hauraki came together at the play the ball, a slight push from Hauraki angering Priddis, referee Cummins initially letting the first infringement go, but after Priddis retaliated more forcefully – the referee suddenly addresses the push and shove but awards the penalty against Hauraki after initially seeing it and allowing play on?
It’s fortunate that there wasn’t more aggression and a total brawl during the game, as you can understand the players getting so frustrated with such a poor showing.
It didn’t matter if you were a Penrith or Parramatta fan, both sides copped their fair share of poor calls.
Whats even more frustrating is the fact that referee quality is slipping and it doesn’t seem like we have much in the way of back-ups. Everyone makes mistakes, however after making at least a dozen mistakes in one outing surely referee Ben Cummins had to be given a spell in lower grades?
We saw several referees retire at the end of last year, Paul Simpkins and Steve Clark. These guys were two of the top ranking referees and surely Robert Finch and his team must be feeling the void? Why else could Cummins continue to get a gig after such a shocking performance?
It’s hard for the coaches and club officials to comment on the performance of referees, while it’s the referees creditability they can’t question – it’s such a fine line between a $10,000 fine that many don’t even risk touching on the referee. This makes it very hard for anyone to speak their mind on the performance of a match official, there is no doubt coach Matt Elliott and Michael Hagan would have been livid with the performance of Cummins – but virtually powerless to speak their real mind.
As Tim Sheens said recently, the biggest worry for most coaches is now the referees. Coaches can prepare their players in the best possible way, study the enemy and design game plans – but what they can’t prepare for is the ‘interpretations’ of individual referees. So if it’s hard preparing for individual refereeing styles – how do you prepare for a match under Ben Cummins after a performance like that last week?