What a great week of sport. Queensland dominated Origin, Federer and Nadal are out of Wimbledon (paving the way for the Brit’s own, Andy Murray), Le Tour kicks off, qualifying for the British GP was last night with the race at Silverstone tonight, and not to forget the Rugby aka The British and Irish Lions Tour.
As part of the blog’s spotlight on Origin this week, how could we here at DrunkSpec not contribute to the ensuing media and fan frenzy surrounding the [in]famous Biff Factor.
Naturally after Gallen’s punch-on during Game One and the NRL’s subsequent banning of the biff for future Origin and NRL club matches, all eyes were on Game Two this week to see whether the players could control their on-field emotions, and the refs the game.
Alas, Game Two only brought more disappointment and frustration for staunch Origin fans like myself. Though, unlike Game One, it was the ref’s almost opposite response to the ol’ knuckle sandwich that served to ignite the flames.
In lieu of reprimanding Gallen with 10 in the bin for his fisty-cuffs on Queensland forward Nate Myles in the State of Origin opener, the refs it seems were on a mission to redeem themselves and the reputation of their creed. In Game Two, it was NSW’s Trent Merrin that unleashed some cannon-fodder onto an unsuspecting Brent Tate only to see the refs send both players to the stands along with their respective teammates Greg Bird and Justin Hodges.
Yes, four players were sent off for a few punches that emanated from a single player. Too far refs, too far. It was what league great Andrew Johns fittingly called “a debacle” with both sides down to eleven players for the next ten minutes. What was already a bad (but nevertheless entertaining) situation was made worse by the ref’s call to send every man and his dog to the locker rooms.
For me, biff has always been an integral part of the Origin experience. The heightened tensions, pressures, and perhaps too the stakes, are what draw me to Origin even though I refuse to follow or even watch a single game of the regular NRL season. Banning what is effectively the out-pouring of emotions on the field will no doubt have a flow-on effect to the above and the overall atmosphere. To ditch the biff is to the detriment of the Origin brand.
Now, before all you concerned and ueber-righteous punters get your backs up, I do in fact agree with the NRL’s position on sin-binning any player that throws a punch. But let’s stick to just that, not sin-binning someone for what Tate himself described as ‘head-butting someone’s fist’. And, as much as I dislike Bird by virtue of his loyalties, how can you justify sin-binning a player for coming in to diffuse a situation when the majority of players on the field were doing the exact same thing.
Basically, if you’re going to administer a new rule, make sure it’s enforced as per tit stands and not willy-nilly as was the case in Origin Game Two.
On another note, I’m glad to see that the world hasn’t gone completely mad and that companies who manufacture alcoholic beverages, i.e. XXXX, can still sponsor sports teams and have their logos and paraphernalia splashed all over our screens. Reminds me of the glory days of the Winfield Cup.
In conclusion (and because I’ve been so unbiased for the entirety of this article), New South Wales, get your shit together and win a series! While I’ll hate it if you do, it’s time, and the future and reputation of Origin depends on it!