‘Some referees haven’t played the game and don’t know what it’s like in the middle of the field’ – Ex-Super League forward Mark Flanagan calls on refereeing leniency following increasing punishments

Ever since the first rugby league ball was kicked back at the start of February, the sport has been consumed by debate.

Most of it has concerned the increasing severity of punishments handed out to Super League, Championship and League 1 stars.

For example, Luke Gale has been banned for five games, James Bentley for four and Dylan Napa for four too.

And, for former professional Super League forward Mark Flanagan, referees have been too eager to caution players – right from the word go.

“There were a couple of incidents that I was surprised and disappointed with,” Flanagan said on the Out Of Your League podcast.

“The opening kick off to Super League when Gil Dudson got tackled and someone put their hand in his face and he wriggled free – he got a yellow card.

“There needs to be a small element of a bit of niggle , as long as it isn’t too dangerous then let it go because it’s getting ridiculous.

“If teams get sinbinned at every opportunity then it’s ruining the spectacle.

“Some referees haven’t played the game and don’t know what it’s like in the middle of the field.”

Flanagan also stressed that there needs to be more benefit of the doubt given to players.

“There is a bit of intimidation and machoism and you need to let some go on or otherwise someone touches you and you’re crying to the referee and grassing on them and you don’t want that as a by-product of over cautioning players.

“I think there needs to be a little bit of benefit of the doubt to players rather than cautioning at every opportunity.”

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