What’s the difference between American football and Super League? In the NFL you only get one forward pass per play! Yep it’s been a talking point for a while and it’s gradually becoming more and more of an issue, the good old forward pass. Ever since Stevo made up the momentum rule* and guidance was given to referees to consider the momentum of players when making calls on forward passes it has often been a grey area and it would certainly seem in recent weeks that something really needs to be done.
Watching the Super League show this week I think just about every game had a few forward passes, the Wigan Leeds game attracting some controversy and attention. This season appears to be seeing a peak of a problem that has been growing in the game for a while, often there are close calls that are genuinely hard to tell due to the speed of the game, but increasingly there are some down right ludicrous passes that refs and touch judges should be picking up. So what’s the problem? Is it a decline in refereeing standards that has been complained about by a number of people watching the game? In all honesty I don’t know if there is a decline in the standard or a simple shift in reluctance to make a call on those decisions and give the benefit of the doubt presumably backed up the “momentum rule”. In many other areas of the game the ref can now avoid making a call and go to the video, but not for a forward pass and I think it is this lack of adjudicating power for the video ref that is making the situation worse.
If a try scoring decision is referred to the video for something and there is an obvious forward pass the video ref can’t do anything and it just looks daft. He has to sit on his hands and ignore it and it unintentionally highlights the forward pass in the build up. I also don’t understand the reasons as to why the video ref can’t rule on a forward pass, if he can imagine a line across the field for an onside decision then surely he can do the same for a forward pass?
The highlighting of these issues by the video and the impotence of the video ref when judging them is only making this situation look worse and whilst allowing the video ref to judge forward passes may well take more onus off the ref and touch judges on the field it would go someway to restoring some faith in the ruling of the game. A penchant for forward passes is something that many people have pointedly mocked Rugby Union for in the past but a watch of this last season in union would show that it’s a problem they are stamping out and have under control and it’s about time we did the same.
I’m not sure how much of an issue this is down under but I’m getting chance to watch a bit more from there this season so I’ll be keeping an eye on it. I did manage to catch the deciding Origin game this week which was fantastic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team dominate a first half like Queensland did, they were phenomenal even if at one point they looked like making the grave mistake of not turning dominance into enough points. A great passionate intense game and you can see why the RFL are so keen to try and replicate the spectacle in some form in the UK.
Back in the UK and with Wigan’s win against Castleford completing the last round of tipping I emerged with only one game incorrect, a respectable result. The game I got wrong was my mad cap prediction of Crusaders beating Huddersfield. Huddersfield have been out of sorts and are finding their feet but Crusaders don’t appear to be moving anywhere under Iestyn Harris and I genuinely believe that Crusaders of last season under Brian Noble could well have taken advantage and grabbed points from a game like that. Looking ahead to next season though and Crusaders will have a centre pairing with a combined age of 73 after signing Keith Senior and giving Gareth Thomas another year contract – wow!
Still onto this weeks predictions which see four games on a traditional Sunday afternoon, rather unusual in this modern Super League.
Crusaders 8 – 30 Hull KR – Fresh from walloping Wakefield Hull KR will be more than confident of turning over a lack lustre Crusaders team, although I think repeating a 70 point haul from last week might not happen.
Hull FC 22 – 10 Salford – Salford are actually sitting high on the form table at the moment, four wins in the last 6 and looking to extend a winning run to 3 games. In 9th place and hoping to keep their play off hopes alive they will need a win against 8th placed Hull. I’m going for a Hull win in a fixture which could be rather decisive in determening the bottom of the place off places.
Harlequins 6 – 38 Wigan – I can’t see anything other than a dominant Wigan win here, whilst they’re on the back of a three games in a little over a week they should still prove too dominant for a struggling Quins side.
Catlans 22 – 6 Leeds – Leeds are showing a little bit more of what we expect, a narrow but well fought loss to Wigan will have hurt and travelling to a Catalan team who are looking strong and playing well will be difficult.
Castleford 20 – 16 Bradford – These are two teams I would consider to be playing at very similar level recently and that will hopefully make for a very good game. Bradford look to have lost a little momentum they seemed to be building and Cas will hope to put in a full 80 minute performance after leading against league leaders Wigan in mid week.
Wakefield 12 – 32 Saints – Surely anything less than a 50 point margin will be acceptable for Wakefield after last weeks humiliation against Hull KR. Maybe just 20 points this week to the visiting St Helens.
Warrington 28 – 10 Huddersfield – Much has been made this season of Warrington’s phenomenal points difference, six 50+ score lines and a +455 points difference is huge. But for a change I’d expect the Giants to be able to hold them to something at least a little conservative even if they can’t quite see through a win.
So that’s this weeks predictions and as I started with American football I’ll finish with it and this video from the footy show – I just don’t know who’s tougher.
*This may not be true, I’m not actually sure where the momentum rule came from but it is often credited as being made up by Stevo.