McManus not the only chairman furious with RFL

Saints chairman Eamonn McManus
Saints chairman Eamonn McManus
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Saints supremo Eamonn McManus isn’t the only high-profile Rugby League figure concerned with the inconsistencies of the RL Disciplinary Committee.

Former referees’ chief Stuart Cummings - who was part of the originally working group team which in 2007 drew up the sentencing guidelines and developed the process that is now in place - admitted this week that the system needed reviewing.

Mr Cummings was adding his thoughts to the views expressed by the St Helens chairman in the wake of two-match bans imposed on Luke Thompson and Luke Walsh - the latter for a dangerous throw - at last Wednesday’s disciplinary panel and the problems caused when the original scheduled hearing, which had been set for Tuesday night, was postponed for 24 hours due to one of the judiciary being taken ill at the 11th-hour.

Both players were subsequently found guilty of the charges and while initially Saints wanted to appeal against the sentences, they were forced, reluctantly, to withdraw them due to lack of time to present a case..

In his League Weekly column, Mr Cummings said: “There is no doubt owing to the way the game has changed over the nine years that this system has been in place with different ways of defending and tackling causing much of the problem and while sentencing guidelines attempt to address every possible way that misconduct can occur, there will inevitably be incidents that are not accurately described in the guidelines.”

The ex-Super League referee cited last week’s RL Disciplinary Panel decision to hand a two-match ban on Thompson as a case in point after they had found him guilty of ‘a shoulder charge with indirect or secondary contact to the head of an attacking player’ in the club’s last home game against the Catalans Dragons.

Mr Cummings said: “The panel took a different view to mine as I believe that this refers to a player whose initial point of contact is below the shoulder.

That is illegal but would only result in a penalty and then the shoulder makes contact with the head.

“The secondary contact is an accidental clash of heads involving Thompson and Justin Horos which is mainly due to the body position of the Catalans player rather than the shoulder charge.

“While we see a lot of accidental head clashes in the game, this is the first time I’m aware of someone has been charged as a result.”

He went on: “Perhaps it is time to review how the system operates and to look at any areas for improvement.”

No doubt he will have the 100 per cent support of the Saints’ chairman but pointed out that at the end of the day any changes would be in the hands of the clubs themselves.

Over to you, Mr McManus!