As Hull KR and Leigh Leopards earnt their place at Wembley at the expense at Wigan Warriors and St Helens, there were plenty of talking points.
Sione Mata’utia was shown a yellow card for a late hit on Ben Reynolds. That gave Reynolds the chance to give Leigh a 12-6 lead which would prove vital in a 12-10 triumph for the club as they look to secure their first Challenge Cup win since 1971.
Hull KR are chasing their first Challenge Cup win since 1980 and they were helped along by a red card for Joe Shorrocks at the start of the second half after he caught Mikey Lewis’ chin with his shoulder in a full blooded tackle.
This has caused widespread debate and division even amongst former officials.
Ian Smith took to social media to say that under the current rules that it was a red card:
“I’m saying it’s a red card in 2023 with the directives the refs are getting, they definitely weren’t red card offence’s when I ref’d. Whether I agree with it or not is irrelevant, it’s what it is nowadays.”
Richard Silverwood disagreed stating that the current directives are “bullshit.”
“There lies the issue. The directives. Who is giving these as its bullshit. NRL isn’t that pedantic. Their system would have handled that perfectly. On report or penalty and on report and move on. If MRP want to ban so be it but for me these Reds are getting silly.
“Ian has probably accepted the way the game is going more than me. I just can’t accept that is a red card because its just not. The game is pathetic now. For me, he hits on top of the ball, and Lewis’s head rocks forward onto his shoulder IMO.”
He went on to say he fears for the game moving forward:
“If that is the benchmark now in 2023 as a clear red card then I am totally lost and concerned what the game will look like in the future. Its not direct contact IMO, its secondary contact at best so can handle a penalty and possibly sin bin, even then it doesn’t sit right.”
It was interesting to see that Mata’utia suffered a longer term ban than Shorrocks.
Mata’utia hit Ben Reynolds late and a touch high and was sin binned at a key moment in the game.
Shorrocks meanwhile hit Mikey Lewis high and was sent off for direct contact with the head.
Mata’utia and Shorrocks have been charged with the exact same offence (except for a slight variation in the allegation) but Mata’utia has been banned for two games and Shorrocks for one.
The obvious question is why does a yellow card offence receive a worse punishment than a red card.
On one hand, the match review panel could believe that either the Shorrocks offence was in fact a yellow or that Mata’utia’s deserved a red.
Either way they deemed them the same offence but Mata’utia has picked up a worse punishment perhaps due to the fact he has a worse previous record or perhaps due to the fact Shorrocks already served a worse punishment.