Catalans Dragons’ Steve McNamara calls for rethink after referees travel with Leeds Rhinos team

Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara is calling for a rethink over travel arrangements for RFL match officials after referees James Child and Ben Thaler shared flights with Leeds Rhinos players, officials and supporters on their trip to Perpignan on Friday.

Child was at the centre of a controversial penalty-riddled clash which saw three sinbins and a red card for Catalans in their 20-10 defeat to Leeds.

McNamara was critical of some of the decisions made by Child during the game and suggested a rethink on travel arrangements, but was keen to stress that he wasn’t personally trying to link the two issues.

When asked about the situation, McNamara said: ”I need to be really careful because this isn’t a crack at this game tonight.

“I get during Covid why that situation happened, but the amount of pressure those officials must be under, travelling on a private flight with a team, given what is at stake.

“Please, I must restate this, this isn’t a crack at James Child or Ben Thaler or any of the other officials who are involved there; they just shouldn’t be put in that situation to start with because it’s a no-win situation for them. They should not be put in it and everybody knows that. The flights are all open now.

“Because then people start asking questions like you (journalists) ask me, you asked the question because you know that’s the situation, they shouldn’t be in that position to have to do that.

“We didn’t deserve to win tonight based on what happened out there on the field, but jeez, it’s common sense.”

McNamara also called for clarity on the use of the yellow card for players “running in” at scuffles after his stand-off Mitchell Pearce was sin-binned for the offence during the first half.

“Frustration got the better of our players,” he said.

“The Mitchell Pearce one, the first one (he later received a second sin-binning for a disagreement with referee Child), there is a rule that if you run in and get involved you can get sinbinned but it’s not been used all season, not used at all. And there are Leeds players who ran in as well. So I don’t understand how it’s rolled out on a night like tonight.

“We’d been under pressure, but we’d forced a repeat set, got field position, forced a drop-out and then there’s a penalty against us.

“Those situations lead to more and more frustration for our players. We didn’t handle it well enough and in the last 20 minutes we could have got a way back into the game but our discipline let us down.”

McNamara also reacted to his opposite number Rohan Smith’s post-match comment where he claimed Sam Tomkins had “dived” in an incident involving Leeds forward Matt Prior.

“I’ve got to be careful here, but not too careful, but Richie Myler did something similar a few weeks back and got a sinbin (against his opponent),” McNamara said.

“It’s not exactly the same incident, don’t get me wrong, but I think as coaches sometimes we pick and choose when we want to look at the incidents. But make of it what you want; I’m not going to go down that route too much.”

McNamara agreed the best team had won, however, adding: “We didn’t play football well enough tonight. We tried hard but we just couldn’t find any rhythm in the game.

“We’ve had to fight, bite and scratch to put ourselves into this position but tonight the number of injuries and changes we have had to make took their toll.

“Leeds have been in better form than us and we just didn’t have enough fluency and accuracy to get the job done.

“Frustration got the better of our players and we didn’t handle the situation well enough.”

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