Inside George Williams’ failed case – Why England skipper was punished for frivolous appeal

On Tuesday there was a huge controversy with Warrington Wolves star and former Wigan Warriors halfback George Williams banned for two games.

Williams had been banned for one game for a shoulder charge against St Helens in the play-offs.

He appealed but the appeal was deemed frivolous and he has now been banned for two games meaning he will miss two thirds of England’s series against Tonga.

This was widely criticised but now the RFL’s notes from the appeal reveal why.

They read:

The MRP argue that this was forceful contact by Mr Williams using an illegal tackle technique, namely with the shoulder.

Mr Williams makes no effort to moderate his behaviour or the point of contact. The contact was forceful and there was flexion of the head and neck of the opponent. As such his actions were reckless and the grading of the charge is Grade B.

Mr Chambers argued on behalf of the player that this was an unavoidable collision. The opponent made his way directly towards Mr Williams and Mr Williams did not alter his course, whilst the reason Mr Williams did not seek to make a fair and legal tackle was that at this time, he was carrying an injury which makes it impossible for him to raise his arm and wrap it in any way.

The Tribunal are in agreement that this argument holds little sway with them. If a player is forced into making illegal tackles because of an ongoing injury then he should not in our view be playing in the game. The safety of an opponent is paramount.

In this instance – Mr Williams could have taken avoiding action even if he could not tackle properly and he did not do so. Such action as leading with the shoulder into an opponent creates an obvious risk of a dangerous collision and consequent injury and therefore, we are reasonably satisfied that this was a reckless act. The grading at Grade B is appropriate in this instance and the challenge to the penalty notice is therefore dismissed.

Furthermore, the Tribunal feel that this charge was always one which should be charged at Grade B. With that in mind the challenge can only be seen as frivolous. Accordingly, the suspension is therefore increased by a further match.