It’s been confirmed that Warrington Wolves’ George Williams will miss the first two England tests against Tonga after a failed appeal, whilst St Helens star Matty Lees will instead be available.
Those are the outcomes of last night’s Operational Rules Tribunal in which both men contested Grade B charges that had been administered for shoulder charges in their recent play-off matches.
It was found that Williams, who committed his shoulder charge against St Helens, was unsuccessful in his appeal and it was also deemed frivolous therefore another game was added on top.
As for Lees, who had picked up his charge against Catalans Dragons, he was successful and the Grade B charge was cut to Grade A and a £250 fine instead of a ban meaning he will be available for the test at his home stadium on October 22nd.
Fans have expressed confusion at why the two were different and also what determines a frivolous appeal and what does not.
Serious About Rugby League confirmed with the RFL what is meant by frivolous appeals, compared to those that aren’t.
The RFL stated: “Frivolous means that the appeal, in the opinion of tribunal members, had no basis or merit to it within the rules and laws of the game.”
Because of the fact that the appeal was frivolous it meant that an extra game was added to the ban, Williams now set to miss two of the three tests against Tonga.
It’s a huge blow for England, Shaun Wane and Williams himself who had shone on his England captaincy debut against France in April.
Now, Wane will have to name a new skipper for the first two matches whilst England will be without one of their star halves and most exciting players.
As for Matty Lees he will now be available for all three tests because of his successful appeal meaning he is available for selection for the first test at the Totally Wicked Stadium on October 22nd.
The RFL statement regarding both player’s charges was as follows:
“George Williams of Warrington Wolves pleaded guilty to a Grade B charge of a shoulder charge in the Betfred Super League Play-Off at St Helens on September 30, but challenged the grading.
“The independent Operational Rules Tribunal rejected the challenge, and deemed it frivolous, therefore increasing the resulting ban from one match to two.
“Matty Lees of St Helens also pleaded guilty to a Grade B charge of a shoulder charge in the Betfred Super League Play-Off at Catalans Dragons on October 6, and also challenged the grading.
“The independent Operational Rules Tribunal upheld this challenge, downgrading the charge to Grade A, and therefore reducing the punishment from a one-match suspension to a £250 fine.
“Lees will therefore be available for England’s first Test against Tonga on October 22, if selected.”