‘Petrified’ umpires behind disasters that robbed Wests Tigers, says Phil Gould

Referees are “petrified” of being scolded and that was the cause of the slump that robbed the Wests Tigers of victory against the Cowboys, according to Phil Gould.

The rugby league icon has been unleashed after the Bunker awarded North Queensland a penalty in the dying seconds of Sunday’s Cowboys-Tigers clash in Townsville for an escort, prompting Valentine Holmes kicked a penalty to secure a 27-26 victory.

NRL football boss Graham Annesley argued referee Chris Butler’s decision to authorize a captain’s challenge was correct.

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Phil Gould says umpires are terrified of being hit and that was the cause of the Wests Tigers debacle. (NRL Images)

But he also admitted Bunker official Ashley Klein’s decision to award the Cowboys a penalty for Asu Kepaoa obstructing Kyle Feldt was wrong.

Gould believes umpires were so afraid of making the wrong calls, and therefore over-reliant on the bunker, was the root of the Cowboys-Tigers debacle.

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“We are becoming more and more dependent on technology and the bunker, and the philosophy of those directing the umpires and telling them how to handle certain situations has meant that umpires have relied more and more on technology rather than making a decision themselves,” Gould told Nine’s 100% Footy.

“The ref should have had this matter in hand, just flew at full time, nobody would have complained, let’s move on, Wests Tigers had a brilliant win, they won, that’s done.

“But because umpires are petrified, and I mean petrified, of being singled out for criticism (they love to refer to the bunker).”

NRL admits mistake robbed Tigers

Gould then claimed that there was a division in the umpiring department regarding strategy.

“Remember, the Bunker is there to protect the umpires. That’s its main purpose. That’s why there’s an umpire section…which has been pushing our game management into more and more use and more and more importance Gould said. .

“There is also a core of referees who are totally against their philosophy, who want to be left to decide for themselves.

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“What you had (in the Cowboys-Tigers game) was the umpire saying, ‘Well, I’ll just leave it in the Bunker.’ whatever happens It’s called a challenge.”

“Well, he can’t challenge it—there’s nothing to challenge.

“(The referee) should have called full time.”

Paul Gallen also called out Butler for being afraid.

“That referee lost control of that situation. He totally lost control,” Gallen said.

“He blew the whistle and as soon as (Cowboys captain) Chad Townsend went to him … he said, ‘Oh, thank God!’ Thank God I can get out of this. I can send it to the bunker and it isn’t. my decision’. He totally lost control. If he had the balls on him, he would have ended the game there.”

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