Dave Hadfield: We need to stop obstructing good play

This article originally appeared in issue 398 of Rugby League World magazine. Issue 399 is currently in production and will be on sale from June 6. Click here to find out more about the magazine and to browse back issues click this link

I bumped into the wife on the landing the other day and a whistle went for obstruction.

That’s the way it’s been getting in matches recently, where you can barely imagine a try that doesn’t fall under suspicion for what we used to call crossing or shepherding.

If you try hard enough, you can find a couple of attackers whose paths intersect at some point in the build-up just about every time.

For a lot of referees, both here and in Australia, that’s enough to disallow a try – and some particularly well-worked ones have been ruled out as a result.

It’s a clear case of a rule becoming too fashionable and officials over-using it to demonstrate that they’re on top of it.

In the process, they are ignoring the common sense interpretation that a try should only be ruled out when a runner deliberately prevents a tackle being made.

As Phil Gould pointed out on Premier recently, defenders in the NRL are perfecting the art of running into the nearest attacker and gullible referees are allowing them to get away with it.

It will get as bad or worse here, unless referees are steered away from over-reading these situations.

Another sight that annoys me at the moment is that of players looking to the bench for a decision on whether to run a penalty or “take the two.”

It shouldn’t take a coach to weigh the options. The people best placed to feel the quality of the tackling at any given stage are the players, so it is a decision best made by them – specifically by the captain.

If he can’t make his mind up about something like that without consulting the bench the game really is getting too robotic and the captain’s arm-band means very little.

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