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I Now Doubt Benefit Of The Doubt - Jarryd Hayne No Try Decision

The Mad Chatter - Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Jarry Hayne in State of Origin 1 - Should this have been a try?A crucial decision in the opening State of Origin match has cast a doubt on whether the ‘benefit of the doubt’ rule favouring the attacking team in rugby league should continue or be scrapped.

Video referees took close to ten minutes and viewed numerous replays in the opening State of Origin match at Etihad Stadium to figure out whether NSW winger Jarryd Hayne’s foot made contact with the touchline and therefore negate his four-pointer.  Most would agree that this decision was significant in determining the outcome of the match.

Did Jarryd Hayne’s foot make contact with the touchline or not? That was the only talk today in my office and I’m sure in plenty of others across Australia.

Qld supportes say yes, NSW supporters say no. Brisbane’s Courier Mail says he was out, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph say his foot never touched the line. The video referees say yes, Jarryd Hayne says no. So who is right and when does the benefit of the doubt rule come in to play?

This afternoon video referees Bill Harrigan and Tim Mander released a statement saying they believed there was enough evidence to rule against Hayne and the NSW team.

“We felt on viewing the first ‘front-on’ angle that Jarryd Hayne’s foot had come into contact with the line,” the video referees said.

“Obviously we were aware of the ‘benefit of the doubt’ option but we believed there was sufficient evidence to confirm our original thought that Jarryd’s foot had touched the line and we were both equally confident of that view.”

“We wanted to check another angle from behind to assure ourselves there was no conflicting evidence. The first replay from that angle did not show his feet during the entire run to the line. The subsequent ‘front-on’ replay confirmed our initial view and we asked for a slow-motion replay as final evidence.”

I can understand the video referees’ justification of their decision and need for numerous replays but what is concerning is that the players, coaches, administrators, commentators, journalists and your everyday sports fans are now completely confused as to when the benefit of the doubt rule should and will be enacted by the officials. 

When two on-field referees, two video referees and the near side touch judge can’t agree on a decision, particularly one where it is a matter of millimetres, than this surely is cause for the benefit of the doubt rule to be applied. The touch judge who was in a good position did not indicate Hayne was out, the on-field referees did not make a decision on the contact with the touchline and the video referees needed numerous replays.

Is this an example of a benefit of the doubt situation or do we back the officials decision and get on with life?

So where to from here? There are calls to scrap the benefit of the doubt rule but others in the rugby league community want it to continue. One thing is for sure, I doubt whether this will be the last we hear about the benefit of the doubt rule in rugby league.

I would be greatful if someone from the National Rugby League could now explain the notion of benefit of the doubt in light of the decision against Jarryd Hayne and NSW. It might help clear some misconceptions and misunderstandings.

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