It was one of the most startling moments of the weekend as Wigan went down 48-0 to Catalans, but Zak Hardaker’s red card and Joel Tomkins’ yellow were the main talking point.
Hardaker has since been given a two-match ban with Tomkins referred to a tribunal, but many fans took to social media to discuss the length of the former’s suspension.
One Twitter user believed that the RFL. needs to have another look at the issue.
#RFL the disciplinary committee need to review the decision to award Zak Hardaker 2 matches for violent conduct. This sends the wrong message to everybody concerned with rugby league. What happened to the Respect campaign?
— Neil Cunliffe (@Cunnie6Neil) May 31, 2021
Another Twitter user couldn’t see why a headbutt wasn’t worth more games.
Two matches for a head butted yet up to five games for punching? Who set this tariff? 🤔
— David Fleming (@DavidFl32814060) May 31, 2021
Another user was fuming to say the least.
I’ve said it before but will repeat it – you go on about supporting the seriousness of head contact in the game, yet here you have a serious issue of deliberate head use to injure – and give a 2 game ban? But ban for 8 games grabbing someone’s balls? Your priorities are shocking
— huge43 (@huge433) May 31, 2021
Someone couldn’t understand why Tomkins didn’t get a red card if his grading was higher than Hardaker’s.
So Joel is on grade d and Zak on grade c…… why did Zak see red and Joel didn’t??
— Gemma (@gemheno) May 31, 2021
Former referee Ian Smith also contributed to the debate.
I didn’t think escare would get anything, it looked worse than it was. I think Joel Tomkins will be because he threw several punches and connected, also his previous won’t have helped him.
— Ian Smith (@Iansmith2468) May 31, 2021
A few Twitter users did, however, think the bans were fair.
To be fair, I think that is right.
Hardaker did use the head but there was barely any contact and was more of a frustrated shove. Tomkins landed 3 or 4 good punches with arguably more intent. Which is why both should have seen red at the time.
— Mark F (@Pleyndamour) May 31, 2021
So u think a single head butt deserves more punishment that 4 direct punches to the head? I think they got it spot on.
— Paul Holden (@PaulHolden1449) May 31, 2021
Yep spot on for me. If Zak hadn't been sent I assume the ban would have been longer.
— Craig Hogan-Farnworth (@Hogan13) May 31, 2021
Their views were, however, beat down by another fan.
Give over Zak goes to rub his head in first time then rams it in second with enough force to knock sam’s head back in to Joel’s head that’s never only 2 games when watts walked towards Crosby and pushed his head forward and got three games.
— Sean Betts (@seanbetts1) May 31, 2021
That sentiment was echoed by another user.
The fact that Tomkins could end up with a longer ban than Hardaker sums up a lot of what is wrong with RL at the moment. A two match ban for a deliberate head butt is a disgrace. Also how come no charge for Lussick? That looked bad on Thursday night.
— Mark Wilson (@MarkWilsonRadio) May 31, 2021
Although, someone was less than happy that the above tweeter was calling for more players to be banned.
Agree on Tomkins/Hardaker but why are you begging for players to be punished? Two wrongs don’t make a right. Lussick was sin binned and served his punishment. Never known any other sport that loves to ban its players.
— CNR (@cwrobinson_) June 1, 2021
One user even saw the funny side of it in relation to Liam Watts’ extended ban three weeks ago.
After discussing it with Wigans lawyers the RFL have agreed to apologise to Hardaker and ban Liam Watts for 2 games.
— Big Shep (@Shepardo35) May 31, 2021
Someone else found it surprising how Hardaker’s grading was not as much or even longer than Tomkins’ considering the clampdown on shots to the head.
No doubt on Joel and he deserves a ban as they're clamping down on punching and head contact in general, which is why I find it bizarre that Hardaker's grading & ban is less when he's instigated it against a defenceless opponent. Mad.
— Phil Jones (@philrodneyjones) May 31, 2021
Another echoed that sentiment.
Don’t get me wrong Joel shouldn’t have done what he did however he has just seen his brother get headbutted but for me the ban for Hardaker should be doubled easily
— 𝙇𝙖𝙬𝙧𝙞𝙚 𝙇𝙚𝙚 (@lawrielee) May 31, 2021
Another was amazed that a headbutt only received two matches.
2 matches for a headbutt?
— Andrew Rimmer (@AndrewRimmer) May 31, 2021