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Revealed: Why Sylvester Namo was found guilty

Super League Disciplinary Sylvester Namo Castleford Tigers

Earlier today, Castleford Tigers’ forward Sylvester Namo was found guilty of his Grade E charge handed down by the Operational Rules Tribunal on Tuesday meaning that the forward will serve his five-match ban.

Initially, Sylvester Namo was handed a Grade F charge by the Match Review Panel but that was lowered to a Grade E charge of ‘Dangerous Contact’ at Tribunal on Tuesday.

Castleford Tigers confirmed their intent to appeal the decision and that appeal has now been processed with Sylvester Namo being found guilty once again, meaning that the ban is upheld and the appeal unsuccessful.

Namo’s ban was a controversial one with fans arguing that the injury caused, as opposed to the tackle committed, was why the punishment was so severe, with Wigan’s Willie Isa dislocating and fracturing his ankle in the incident.

The Minutes from today’s appeal have now been revealed to explain exactly why Sylvester Namo was found guilty.

Why was Sylvester Namo found guilty?

Wigan Warriors player stretchered off against Castleford Tigers.

Credit: Imago Images

The Minutes, posted on the RFL website, confirm the entire process from the initial Match Review Panel charge of Grade F, right through to why today’s appeal upheld the guilty charge.

It’s been revealed that the initial grade was so severe because the MRP felt that it should “reflect the terrible outcome for WI”.

Castleford Tigers’ supported Sylvester Namo at the hearings with head coach Craig Lingard and chairman Mark Grattan in attendance, Lingard helping to explain that the club “did not regard SN’s tackle as anything other than an unfortunate rugby incident that had unhappily caused a serious, but wholly unintended, injury”.

The MRP were represented by Gavin Wild who used the argument that the tackle was akin to a ‘hip drop’ in terms of the ‘dropping motion’, labelling Sylvester Namo as “highly reckless” in the tackle and without control of his actions.

Craig Lingard noted that the initial contact saw Namo hit his head, causing grogginess which left him unable to control any further motion and avoid the unfortunate incident that injured Willie Isa.

That was considered by the tribunal but it was deemed that Willie Isa was “already being substantially tackled/held by two other Castleford players”.

They noted: “Although SN’s initial contact was not unfair, and in the hip/thigh area, he then continued onwards into WI and in going then to the ground he came down on top of WI thereby making the heavy and objectionable contact with the back of WI’s ankle that caused the very serious injury. In these circumstances the Tribunal must conclude, as argued by the MRP, that this contact was reckless and dangerous with SN not being sufficiently in control of his actions.”

The lack of a HIA and still images that failed to show enough contact of Namo’s head with one of his own players, as Lingard had alleged, rendered that possible mitigation as not adding “anything much at all” to the lack of culpability for Namo.

It was concluded that: “Although the seriousness of WI’s injury does take this case beyond the ordinary sentencing range for a Grade D offence, it does not go as far as a Grade F categorisation. Taking the level of SN’s culpability into account, together with his good disciplinary record, and balancing that against the high level of harm that has been caused, the offence should be categorised as a Grade E offence leading to a suspension of 5 matches (together with the accompanying standard fine of £750).”

Has Sylvester Namo been incredibly hard done by?

Yes! The simple answer is yes.

Sylvester Namo and Castleford Tigers for that matter should consider themselves incredibly unlucky to have such a judgement made against them.

With hindsight, it is easy to make all sorts of arguments about what Namo could or could not have done but acting as the third man in the tackle and wrapping the legs, of a player who is still gaining forward momentum, is what 99% of players would do in that situation.

The actual technique, as referenced by the Tribunal, sees fair initial contact and unfortunately, a terrible injury has happened from the tackle.

That injury shouldn’t dictate punishment for what is a tackle style that will happen multiple times a game across Super League this weekend and the weekend after.

It really does seem to be a case of ‘when it rains, it pours’ for the Tigers at the moment.

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