Tonight, Jason Robinson and Bernard Suttor crossed that line.
I was at Leichhardt Oval for the game between the Sharks and the Tigers. I saw every minute.
The difference between biased and merely incompetent refereeing is that when the ref doesn't know what the hell he's doing, generally both teams on the field feel it.
Tonight? Only one team did.
I'm not just speaking as a Sharks fan here. Even the Tigers fans around me knew how much we were getting fucked in the arse.
The tigers try coming after a Benji Marshall push in the play-the-ball. The Ferguson no try which should have been benefit of the doubt. The ridiculous scrum penalty. The Tigers getting the ball after the Sharks drove Tuqiri into the in-goal. The extra two metres the Tigers got on nearly every play.
And the game-clincher - the "double movement" shit sandwich penalty against Ben Pomeroy.
At the very least, that was a play on Sharks. If the ref had called him held and the Tigers guy had hit him after the calling, it should have been a Cronulla penalty.
When that decision dropped, you could hear even Tigers fans expressing surprise. Sharkies fans were just cursing.
You notice the trend here?
All those decisions were against the Sharks.
Every single one.
And there were more that I don't even remember.
I don't think we had a single 50/50 call all night. Even when something was blatantly in our favour (the first Collis try) the refs made sure to look at every single fucking possible angle to try and find a goddamn way to make sure we didn't get it.
I can understand a few bad calls going against us. That's footy. But when nearly every single fucking possible call goes against you, including one that could have won you the game...then something is really, really wrong.
This goes beyond refereeing incompetence.
This is a conspiracy.
I feel stupid just saying it, but it is.
David Gallop and the NRL have been waiting for years to stick the knife in the Sharks.
Why? It's quite simple - we're an easy target.
The Sharks have a small fan and player base, we don't have much financial muscle, we don't have the historical value of a club like Souths or the sustained success of a Manly.
The NRL spilled blood to keep those teams around. They're not gonna lift a finger for us.
They want us gone.
Luckily for them, they also have a perfect replacement.
With John Singleton's considerable financial backing. the North Sydney/Central Coast Bears are a near-lock to be included next time the NRL decides to expand.
However, we're currently running a 16-team competition where teams are already facing financial strife. Adding another team (or two) won't help in that regard.
Therefore, the best option is to have a club fold and have the Bears ride into their spot like the proverbial knight in shining armour. And we're in the best position to fold.
Think I'm crazy? Remember 2008.
Remember the team we had then? It was a pretty good team.
What happened to it?
Losing Noddy was our fault, straight up. Management didn't do right by him, and we got Baz instead. Which isn't so bad. Losing De Gois also was a major blow, and I'm convinced that the NRL had a hand in ensuring he left the Sharks for Newcastle.
However, nothing quite stinks as bad as the Greg Bird saga.
2008 was Birdy's real coming out party. He and Gal (the Bruise Brothers) were the heart and soul of our team and one of the main reasons we got to within one game of the Grand Final despite our sputtering attack. They gave us a massive dose of our defensive steel.
Then came the glassing bullshit and the rest is history. Turns out that very little really happened and his girlfriend was high as a plane at the time. (I hate the expression "high as a kite". Kites don't get as high as planes.)
Thing is, I can totally believe that Gallop and the NRL managed to blow the situation up. I don't know how, but it's 12am on a Sunday morning and I'm stoned as fuck in an attempt to numb the pain from the bullshit that was the ref's performance.
I'm sure they can leak something to the media - maybe Birdy's girlfriend talked to a friend who talked to someone else before the NRL eventually leaked it?
Or maybe he really did harm her, only that now he's on a different (and more glamourous) team it's to the NRL's benefit to ensure that one of their stars stays on the field rather than in the courts?
You notice how the Manly rapist (Stewart)'s case has been dragged out for nearly two years now? Hmmm, could that be because he's the star player for a star team? Ya thunk?
As the week goes on, I'm gonna try and fill out this theory more coherently so it makes more sense.
The independent commission can't come soon enough. I can only hope that they can somehow uncover just what Gallop and co have against the Sharks, figure out a way to get the Bears in the comp that isn't at our expense and clean out the sorry sack of shit the greatest league for the greatest game in the world have for management.
In the meantime, I'm gonna dream of the firey death of Robinson and the painful death of Suttor.
Peace out, and up up Cronulla.