Former Super League referee speaks out against “soft” bans

Former Super League referee Ian Smith has had his say on the decision to ban Luke Gale for one match (on appeal) for contact with the referee.

The decision to ban Gale kicked up a storm, dividing opinion between those that felt he should have shown more respect for referee Chris Kendall and those that believed it was a soft charge.

Now, Smith – who famously sent off Gareth Hock for manhandling him back in 2008 – has had his say on the dispute.

“I think it’s harsh,” Smith said.

“I don’t think the referees department would approve of some of these bans regarding ‘contact with the refs’ lately – it makes us seem soft.

“I sent off Gareth Hock many years ago for grabbing hold of my shoulder to dispute a decision, but some of these lately seem really soft and excessive.”

Gale initially was given a Grade B charge and two-match ban but that was reduced to one last night by an independent tribunal – though it does mean that the Leeds halfback will miss Friday’s crunch clash with former side Castleford.

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