Dave Craven: Rival coaches speaking sense on two issues spoiling game

Hull KR head coach Tim Sheens.
Hull KR head coach Tim Sheens.
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THERE are plenty of times where coaches don’t have much to say when it comes to post-match press conferences.

That’s fair enough. No matter what anyone cares to suggest otherwise, providing journalists with juicy quotes is way down their list of important things-to-do. Their main role is to create and maintain a winning side.

Hull FC head coach, Lee Radford. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Hull FC head coach, Lee Radford. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

However, every now and again, they do have plenty to talk about and, when in the mood, they can do so at some length.

The aftermath of the Hull KR versus Hull FC derby on Good Friday was one such occasion.

Both Tim Sheens and Lee Radford were vocal on particular – and separate – issues that were causing them concern and wanted to get their point across.

Having listened to both, I remember saying at the time that you could easily have written a 2,000-word feature on their post-match musings.

Rugby league is constantly trying to win new fans and sponsors yet so often, when some eye-catching rugby is put in play to create a try – just the sort of skill that makes the sport so attractive – we are more and more often seeing scores being chalked off.

Dave Craven

Unfortunately, that day, I only had around 300 words to squeeze it all in. I’ve not much more now, to be fair, but at least this is chance to revisit the subject matter in a little detail as I agree with them both and feel it does need more discussion.

Firstly, Sheens was asked about the Adam Quinlan ‘try’ that was ruled out for a so-called obstruction.

He, like most other onlookers, was baffled as to how the effort could be disallowed for such minimal contact from the lead runner into the supposed defender.

It is such a grey area at the moment and causes great confusion but, more worryingly, it is so negative.

Rugby league is constantly trying to win new fans and sponsors yet so often, when some eye-catching rugby is put in play to create a try – just the sort of skill that makes the sport so attractive – we are more and more often seeing scores being chalked off.

It is so dispiriting to see and I fully understand Sheens’ view that the rule is a “mess” which is causing major problems for the sport as a spectacle.

It is too easy for lazy defenders to fall to ground – that didn’t even happen in the Quinlan effort – and appear to be obstructed so there is some blame to be attached to players, too.

But let’s just clear it all up so there is no scope for such ambiguity.

Common sense has to prevail when it is clear ‘obstructed’ defenders have no chance to make up ground and make a tackle.

Unfortunately, the way the rule is interpreted currently, it seems if there is any such minimal contact – regardless of whether or not the defender is truly impeded – the attacking side is penalised.

This issue interlinks with Radford’s own pet hate: matches going on too long due to constant referrals to the video referee.

He rightly stated the derby went on for more than two hours due to all the stoppages brought on by video decisions and that, again, ruins the game as a spectacle.

It is a major debate whether video officials are really needed – I’m still undecided – given all the confusion and outrage they often bring.

But to kill two birds with one stone, preventing referees from going upstairs for obstruction decisions – forcing them to use their own gut-instinct and common sense – would both reduce the risk of more quality, enterprising tries being disallowed and also make sure the game ends before it turns midnight.

Both subjects need some urgent attention from the authorities and also to be sorted out well before the start of the 2019 season.