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Tigers drop legal threats over bunker blunder as NRL admits rule needs to be rewritten

Wests Tigers have opted against mounting a legal challenge against the NRL over the Round 19 bunker blunder which cost them victory against North Queensland.

After the controversial 27-26 loss, club chair Lee Hagipantelis was so furious over the bunker blunder which robbed his team of victory against the Cowboys that he threatened legal action.

The Tigers boss spoke to ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys and NRL CEO Andrew Abdo on the Sunday night of the game which ended in a controversial last-second call from Ashley Klein which gifted the Cowboys a penalty goal to win in Townsville.

With the final kick-off of the game, the bunker ruled Kyle Feldt was impeded in the chase for the ball by Asu Kepaoa even though replays appeared to indicate the Tigers centre was looking directly at the Steeden, not his opponent when they collided.

Bunker official Ashley Klein ruled Kepaoa “ran sideways which denies” Feldt after a captain’s challenge from Chad Townsend. Feldt was laughing after the verdict was announced and Valentine Holmes stepped up to nail the pressure penalty goal to the delight of the local fans.

The Tigers have announced they will not pursue the matter and the NRL issued a statement to say the competition points will remain with North Queensland.

James Tamou of the Tigers speaks with the referee

James Tamou of the Tigers speaks with the referee. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

“The NRL has acknowledged the concerns raised by the Wests Tigers and in response has put forward its interpretation of the rules which enabled the Captain’s Challenge to be made and the subsequent decision of the bunker match official,” according to the NRL statement.

“The NRL has already acknowledged that the Bunker official decision of “escort” was incorrect, leading to the erroneous awarding of a penalty in favour of North Queensland Cowboys which ultimately decided the match.”

The NRL maintains the captain’s challenge “was permissible in terms of how the rules were drafted, the NRL and the Wests Tigers expressed differing views and interpretation”.

However, it has admitted “in light of the concerns raised by the Wests Tigers, that the rule needs to be reviewed at the end of the season to provide more clarity so as to ensure that there is no future misunderstanding as to the intent and application of the rule”.

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