Saints chairman blasts ‘inexplicable’ disciplinary process

St.Helens chairman Eamonn McManus has heavily criticised the RFL’s disciplinary process after Luke Walsh and Luke Thompson were suspended.

After being found guilty of Grade C charges on Wednesday, the club wished to appeal. However, as the original hearings were heard on Wednesday evening, rather than the usual Tuesday slot, Keiron Cunningham was left in a position where he had to either attend the appeals or train with the team ahead of the club’s ‘biggest game of the season’ against Wigan on Friday.

The club has subsequently decided to not appeal either suspension, meaning Walsh and Thompson will be unavailable for the games against Wigan and Hull FC.

McManus stated:

“We very much wished to appeal both decisions but the appeal hearing was set for a Thursday evening, being the night before our game, instead of the normal Wednesday evening.

“Clearly our coach had to choose and train with his final team today and not on match day. Also it is ridiculous to expect two players to do another five hour round trip to Red Hall the night before a crucial game in which they may be playing. We effectively had no choice but to not exercise our right to appeal. I cannot ever recall such a set of circumstances and it is totally unsatisfactory.

“We consider the Luke Walsh punishment of a yellow card plus a two match ban for a dangerous throw to be totally at odds with directly comparable or worse instances in recent weeks. Yet again we are faced with inexplicable inconsistency which is eroding trust and respect for the system to breaking point.

“The Luke Thompson two week ban for “secondary contact”, albeit accidental, has left the entire game perplexed. The “primary contact” was actually an illegal leading elbow from Justin Horo who was then unfortunately accidentally injured, as was Luke Thompson. Most importantly, this new concept of secondary contact (which was wrongly applied in this instance) will undoubtedly open up a Pandora’s Box of collateral incident which, if applied consistently, will result in a whole slew of match bans from accidental contact.

“We have now lost two of our key and form players to the biggest games of the season against Wigan and Hull in the Super Eights. Conversely, clear attempts at eye gouging on our players in consecutive weeks have been ignored by the authorities.

“I have been a lifetime avid supporter of rugby league due mainly to the clarity and simplicity of its rules and the resultant speed, intensity and skill which that framework produces on the field of play. That is what has always positively differentiated rugby league from other competitor sports. However, the guidelines and interpretations of those rules have become incomprehensible to most, and the game resultantly less enjoyable to view. The problem is accentuated by a dysfunctional and erratic disciplinary system. I have made too many representations to this effect to the governing body but to absolutely no avail.”