Wests Tigers request referee recordings after NRL Bunker fiasco

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
The Wests Tigers (pictured right) looking dejected after a loss and (pictured left) Valentine Holmes kicking a goal.
The Wests Tigers have asked the NRL to provide the referee recordings from the final moments of their controversial loss to the Cowboys. (Getty Images)

The Wests Tigers chairman has requested the referee recordings in the final moments after their controversial loss to the Cowboys on the weekend.

The Tigers on Monday lodged a formal complaint to the NRL after a contentious captain's challenge decision saw them lose 27-26 to the Cowboys, after the full-time siren in Townsville.

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Down by one point with a second to go, the Cowboys were awarded a game-defining penalty after the bunker declared that Kyle Feldt was obstructed while trying to regather a short kick off from the restart.

No penalty was blown on-field but Cowboys captain Chad Townsend made his case to referee Chris Butler before the challenge was allowed.

However, the NRL has claimed the Cowboys were able to challenge the referee's 'soft whistle' to end the game and argue a foul was committed on the last play.

In a bizarre move, NRL head of football Graham Annesley admitted officials got the bunker decision wrong and the Cowboys shouldn't have been awarded the match-winning penalty.

Annesley did go on to say the captain's challenge was viable because the referee had only blown the 'soft whistle'.

The incident has caused mass confusion with legendary commentator Warren Smith slamming the 'soft whistle' incident.

And since the NRL's ruling, Wests Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis has asked for the recordings from the referees in the final moments of the game.

Claiming the Tigers don't want to take legal action, Hagipantelis said the club wants clarity on the ruling before deciding their next step.

“I’d like to avoid that [legal action] if at all possible,” Hagipantelis said on Fox Sports NRL 360.

“I sent a letter to Graham Annesley today asking him to produce the recordings of the audio and the transcript. We need to understand what was said between the referee, bunker and players and when it was said.

“When that information is available to us, we will be much better appraised as to what action is available to us. I would hope that if there was evidence available to establish a breach of the rules such as to warrant an overturning of the decision, we would be able to address that directly with the NRL and avoid litigation."

Hagipantelis agreed with commentator Smith that the notion of a 'soft whistle' was new to him and that it was an 'unsatisfactory' outcome.

While it appears a stretch, the Tigers chairman is still aiming to have the Tigers' two points reinstalled after the controversial ending.

NRL says captains' challenge 'was allowable'

Despite NRL fans and commentators insisting the Cowboys should never have been allowed to challenge after the final whistle anyway, Annesley stressed that officials did get that decision right.

Annesley says a captain's challenge "was allowable" because the referee had only blown the 'soft whistle' to signal a stoppage and not the full whistle to officially end to the game.

"You won't find anything in black and white in regards to what happened yesterday," Annesley added.

"In our view it (captain's challenge) was allowable in those circumstances.

"The rules around a captain's challenge talk about you can challenge any decision for the referee to stop the game."

The Tigers (pictured) look dejected after losing the round 19 NRL match against North Queensland Cowboys.
The Tigers (pictured) look dejected after losing the round 19 NRL match against North Queensland Cowboys. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

The feedback will do little to please the Tigers, who are still weighing up whether to launch legal action to try and overturn the result.

"We believe the officials got it wrong, plain and simple," CEO Justin Pascoe said in a statement.

"That decision has cost us victory and we want answers.

"I'm not here to bash officials, I know they are doing their best, but the bunker is there to avoid 'howlers'.

"We would like an explanation from the NRL, and our members and fans deserve that."

with AAP

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