Forget the dodgy refereeing, England should have beaten Australia in Melbourne

England clearly have a mental block when it comes to beating Australia. That much was proved on Sunday in Melbourne.

That England team was good enough in all areas to beat that Kangaroos line-up, and should have done, especially after taking the lead.

Whether or not Ryan Hall scored with his little finger in the last minute of the game should have been irrelevant – England’s position should have been impregnable by that stage.

There comes a time when an England or Great Britain team is going to have grab a game by the scruff of the neck and win it.

There seems to be a mental problem at the moment where England just do not seem to want to win enough when they play Australia.

A more cynical man might call this a weakness of character.

The ability is there, the preparation is there, and the time for excuses has passed.

In Dunedin against New Zealand this weekend, England need to show their supporters that they mean business, and get out there and get the job done.

Embarrassing officials

Of course, the issue of neutral referees is vital, and needs addressing straight away.

Match officials should be beyond reproach, and making an Australian the referee for a test match in Australia (and then making his brother the video ref) is a conflict of interest which would not be permitted in any other major sport, and probably not in many other aspects of public life.

The problem is that, whether consciously or not, an Australian ref will always look at things from an Australian perspective. What looks fair to him is not necessarily going to look fair to someone from another country.

And a referee in any sport needs to be perceived as being without bias as muh as possible.

All this comes down to the same old issue, though: the RLIF has no real teeth, and therefore no real grip on what happens in the game.

An effective RLIF would have ensured years ago that development programmes were in place in all test playing nations to make sure that there was a steady flow of good referees.

The fact that only one Kiwi ref makes it to the top table currently is a disgrace. And where are the French and Welsh refs that we so desperately need?

An effective RLIF would also be able to do something about the apathy which affects test football in the Sydney region too.

They would also make sure that the game is played everywhere according to the same rules, which would help with the refereeing situation.

Until that happens, the conspiracy theories will continue to multiply, doing no one any favours.

I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for anything to change soon on that score, however, sad as that is.

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