St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus has issued a statement following the recent Travis Burns incident and injury at Hull KR.
Burns was the result of a late hit by Hull KR’s James Green during the match between the teams last weekend, and McManus has questioned the inconsistency and “irreconcilability” of decisions made by officials.
In the statement, McManus insists it is not a question of how St Helens are being treated, but more about player welfare and safety. He said:
The Travis Burns incident and injury at Hull KR has frustrated me greatly and raises critical issues for the game which cannot be ignored or suppressed any longer. In the immediate aftermath of the Grand Final, I did publicly state that the combined inconsistency of officiating on the pitch and the irreconcilability of disciplinary decisions off it had created an environment capable of exploitation, innocent or otherwise.
Only a month ago Kyle Amor was banned for two games (probably correctly) for an accidental dangerous tackle which neither hurt nor injured anyone. How can you reconcile this with no sending off and a one match ban for a late shoulder to the head (which by definition must be deliberate) by a prop which breaks a half back’s cheekbone?
Conversely, Alex Walmsley was sent off and also banned for a late high tackle, but with no use of the shoulder, against Huddersfield last season. There are too many similarly irreconcilable examples to use, but such an exercise is probably futile.
This is not a complaint that St.Helens are being mistreated in particular, but a serious concern about the very foundations of the game, its players’ welfare and its business. An environment of confused rule application on the pitch, compounded by inconsistent disciplinary sanction off it, will inevitably lead to unnecessary serious player injury as well as a disillusioned fan base. In addition to obvious player welfare concerns there is, equally importantly, a consequent commercial ill effect for the entire game as well as for individual clubs.
There is no point in making strong commercial progress, which the game recently has, if it is to be undermined by inconsistent officiating and disciplinary. The RFL and Super League have made great commercial progress in recent times, for which they are to be congratulated. However, this makes it all the more imperative that effective action is taken so as not to neutralise this.
I can see no signs of progress since I raised what I considered to be a major alarm bell on this situation after last year’s Grand Final.