Whatever you think about Ben Flower’s incredible attack on Lance Hohaia, one thing is for certain: it put Rugby League in the spotlight.
Clearly it was for the wrong reasons, but within seconds of the Wigan prop seeing red, his name was trending on Twitter, with countless people watching replays and discussing the incident. Indeed, Flower was one of the social network’s most popular talking points until late on Sunday afternoon.
Many celebrities and players got in on the act – here are some of their reactions:
QPR midfielder Joey Barton: “Actually feel a bit sorry for Ben Flower. Lance started it with his elbow. Superb first dig from Flower. Second when he’s KO’d is out of order.”
Professional golfer Lee Westwood, a Wigan fan: “Just seen the sending off. That’s a shocker! No excuses for that.”
Former Salford second-rower Gareth Hock: “Keep your head up Benny lad he deserved it. Picked on the wrong person. Don’t care what you all say, he shouldn’t have elbowed him in the face in the first place. You get what you deserve.”
Barrow Police: “When out and about tonight don’t act like Ben Flower or you will end up #bangedupinbarrow”
Premier Sports commentator Andrew Voss: “See you in 2016, Ben Flower. No defence or excuse for that. As bad as I have ever seen.”
Former England rugby union player Brian Moore: “Ben Flower – his first punch was retaliation for a cheap shot on him; second one was unforgivable.”
Hull FC-bound Leon Pryce: “Feel for Ben Flower. He’s made a huge error and will be reminded of it for a long time. We all make mistakes – none of us are perfect.”
League Express columnist Garry Schofield: “What a disgraceful thing to do.”
Leeds Rhinos prop Jamie Peacock: “Absorbing first half. As for the sending off, if you did that in a pub car park you’d be spending six months at her majesty’s pleasure.”
Former Wigan winger Martin Offiah: “Second punch Flower threw was over the top, but in Rugby League if you forearm somebody in the face you can’t complain if he clocks you one. If I had done what Lance did I’d expect a slap. Lance Hohaia will never attack Ben Flower again. Not condoning second punch on a prone player.”
Former England striker Michael Owen: “In China but just seen those punches. First one was shocking but the second one was a disgrace. Can you imagine the outcry if a footballer did that? To hit someone again when they are already out cold is hard to understand.”