Last weekend was one of the biggest weekends on the rugby league calendar and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
But for all the quality rugby league that was played and despite some outstanding tries being scored – Callum Watkins’ incredible demonstration of one-handed, thumb-grip ball control, a personal favourite for me – one man made all the headlines for all the wrong reasons - Steve Ganson.
The latter is no stranger to controversy at the Magic Weekend, having allowed a last-second Leeds Rhinos’ try against Bradford Bulls to stand in 2007, when Jordan Tansey, having clearly been in front of the kicker at a penalty, collected the ball as it rebounded off the posts to score.
On that occasion Ganson (pictured right) failed to seek the assistance of the video referee Ashley Klein, and the try was given to seal the most dramatic of wins for Leeds, in what has since become known as ‘Gansongate’.
Saturday saw its even more incredible sequel, ‘Gansongate 2’, unfold before our eyes.
Having retired from refereeing last month to take up a match officials coaching post with the RFL, Ganson was appointed as video referee for the Hull FC – Hull KR derby match, and despite watching numerous replays, allowed a clearly offside Chris Green to collect the ball and score the match-winning try for the Black and Whites in the dying minutes of the game.
Getting a big decision wrong as a referee in the heat of battle, as it were, is understandable, forgivable even.
Split-second decisions are never easy for referees to make, particularly when several testosterone-fuelled goliaths are all contesting your decision and claiming something to the contrary in the hope of gaining an advantage.
However, getting such a huge, game-changing decision wrong, despite having replay after replay from any number of angles is totally inexcusable.
To his credit at least, Ganson was quick to acknowledge his error and contact Hull KR personally to offer his apologies, but in my view this doesn’t go far enough.
He made a gross and indefensible error, one which the RFL must act upon to ensure the integrity of the game.
I am not suggesting that Ganson be sacked, although some sort of sanction further to that of being dropped for Sunday’s Leeds – Wigan match which was imposed would be agreeable, and certainly a full investigation needs to be implemented by the RFL to ensure that this scenario is never repeated.
Ganson’s error was the one real black mark for what was a genuinely promising weekend for rugby league.
The standard of rugby played was generally very good, the level of officiating, ‘Gansongate 2’ withstanding, was excellent, and there appeared to be very healthy attendances for both days with many fans staying to watch games long after their own team had played.
The Magic Weekend was, on the whole, a great advertisement for our game.
Kudos must also go to Sky Sports. Their mix of commentary teams gave a much welcome respite from the pomposity of Stevo’s relentless torrent of drivel, while the presence of Stuart Cummings brought an air of intelligence and understanding, not to mention clarity to many rule interpretations.
Hopefully he’ll be a regular member of the Sky Sports team from now on.
Finally this week, don’t forget to set your Sky+ to record the first match in this year’s State of Origin on Wednesday morning.
Last year’s Origin series was the closest in history and provided three breathtaking games.
There is little to suggest that this year will be any different and I for one can’t wait.
Rugby league does not get any more intense than State of Origin, it is rugby league in its purest form and is worth the subscription fee to the Premier Sports channel alone.