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“Games gone soft” – Fans fume over controversial Castleford Tigers’ red card

Liam Watts

Castleford Tigers opened up their 2024 Super League campaign with a heavy defeat against champions Wigan Warriors, a game that wasn’t without controversy.

In an opening round that had seen plenty of yellow and red cards as a result of the sport cracking down on those issues, the clash at Wheldon Road was no different.

The most controversial moment in the game came as Castleford Tigers were reduced to 12 men with forward Liam Watts sent from the field before half-time.

The decision massively split opinion at the time and now Tigers’ head coach Craig Lingard has offered up his opinion on the card, slamming it in his post-game interviews.

Lingard explained: “I know there’s a big thing about head contacts in the league and trying to make the sport safer, which we need to do, but I just don’t know what we expect Liam Watts to do there.”

The Castleford Tigers head coach was perhaps one of those who questioned the decision in a more respectful manner, especially compared to those on social media.

“Shocking decision” – Red card for Castleford Tigers slammed by fans

Liam Watts was sent his marching orders as Castleford Tigers hosted Wigan Warriors in the opening round of Super League.

Liam Watts was sent his marching orders as Castleford Tigers hosted Wigan Warriors in the opening round of Super League. – Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com – 17/02/2024 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League Round 1 – Castleford Tigers v Wigan Warriors – the Mend A Hose Jungle, Castleford, England – Referee Tom Grant red-cards Castleford s Liam Watts r as Joe Westerman looks on in disbelief. Castleford Mend A Hose Jungle England Copyright: x xSWpix.comxt/axPhotographyxHubxLtdxAllanxMcKenzie/SWpix.comx SWP-2371-0014

Watts was sent from the field for his tackle attempt on Tyler Dupree which saw him make contact with the head of the young Wigan forward.

It was explained by the match official that there were no mitigating circumstances, hence it had to be red but some felt that Watts’ reputation preceded him

One Castleford Tigers fan shared on social media: “It really feels like Watts is being victimised and at the centre of a witch hunt.”

Many fans responded simply with: “Games gone soft.”

Another noted how the sport has tripped itself up by implementing such stringent rules in the season when the sport has landed a major free-to-air broadcast deal.

They posted on X: “They’ll never entice anyone new into watching Rugby League with decisions like that live on Sky and the BBC. Shocking decision.”

One thing that angered many of fans of Castleford Tigers but also the game in general was the inconsistency of some decisions, with many questioning why Wigan’s Harry Smith didn’t see red for his tip tackle earlier and yet Watts did.

A fan responded: “That wasn’t a red, if that’s the case then that smith should have been red carded for that spear.”

Another added: “Smiths yellow was for a far more dangerous tackle that could have paralysed a man yet a shoulder charge that misses the head gets red. The rule’s a joke. The cards should be the other way round.”

Smith likely won’t get away scot-free as he’ll almost certainly be hit with a charge by the disciplinary panel, whether it results in a ban or not is uncertain.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Shane Byford

    February 20, 2024 at 11:23 am

    What is it because the champions of super league was nearly getting beat.. and one Wigan player dose a spier takle and gets away with it the RFL and the REFS are going soft on the games know. It would be nice if the rugby league went back to the old days we’re there wasn’t any video ref and just play the game as it was. All these new rules are going over board and getting out of control plus most of the super league fans are going against this already and I can’t blame them.

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