Yates' view: Call may leave a nasty taste but it was a genuine mistake which any referee or player can make

Wembley referee Robert Hicks. Picture: SWPix
Wembley referee Robert Hicks. Picture: SWPix

I don't know when much maligned referee Robert Hicks is next due to officiate at a Super League or play-off match involving Saints, but I would urge the RFL to seriously consider withdrawing him temporarily from the firing line for the time being.


The powers-that-be may be reluctant to bow to the weight of public opinion after the 38-year-old Oldham official denied Saints loose forward Morgan Knowles an early try in the Coral Challenge Cup Final against Warrington Wolves at Wembley on Saturday and subsequently faced a torrent of abuse on social media and other outlets.

Even St Helens themselves weighed into the furore, asking the governing body to explain why Hicks didn't passed the issue upstairs for a second opinion, especially at such an early stage of the most important match of the year to date.

Had he done so, the footage would have clearly shown that the Welsh international had applied downward pressure on the ball before it slipped from his grasp.

But at the end of the day is it fair that Hicks is being criticised from pillar to post for an error of judgement which no doubt will haunt him for the rest of his refereeing career and likely to suffer brickbats wherever he goes from now on?

It was a genuine mistake which any referee or players can make in whatever sport he or she pursues and however angry Saints' fans feel - and there will be thousands of them - there is nothing they can do to change the result.

That's the bottom line, even if in some quarters it is hard to swallow and leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

I think it would be in the referee's best interests - and his own peace of mind - if he was to take a back seat at this moment in time, especially when recently he suffered a death threat from a Warrington fan.

He met that head-on by meeting the perpetrator - and maybe feels his next game cannot come quickly enough.

However, he has been pencilled-in to officiate at the London-Leeds encounter on Sunday which suggests it will be a case of carry on as usual as far as the authorities are concerned.

STILL talking about the cup final - and trying to put my finger on where it all went horribly wrong for Saints - I'm just wondering if one of the reasons was the enormous weight of pressure placed on the players' shoulders to repeat the feats of their legendary predecessors.

Neither did the pre-match feeling in both the media and the pubs and clubs of St Helens that Justin Holbrook's table-topping side - beaten only three times this year - just needed turn up on the day to lift the trophy.

Maybe this led to a little complacency in the camp and a performance which fell way short of expectations.

Or was it simply a question of Warrington drawing on past Wembley experience - whether in victory or defeat - and also out-witting Saints with the perfect game plan.

Whatever the reason, it worked a treat.