Once again the RFL disciplinary panel are facing accusations of not being fit for purpose, and once again I have to agree with the social media outcry against them.
On Friday night my team Hull FC held on to beat Salford Red Devils 35-32 at the KCOM Stadium despite being down to 11 men for the last six or seven minutes. One reason why we had fewer players was a ridiculous yellow card for Chris Green after Adam Walker chose to punch him for no conceivable reason.
However the incident this article is all about happened about a minute later, when Hull centre Josh Griffin ‘tackled’ Krisnan Inu. Said tackle was of an extremely dangerous nature, with Inu having his head slammed into the ground by the powerful Hull centre who was of course playing against his previous club.
As a Hull FC supporter I said to many people, including my colleagues at seriousaboutrl.com that Griffin, for a tackle that could have broken Inu’s neck and ended his career there and then, should be banned for at least 5-8 matches. The more I look at the challenge in question, the worse it looks, it was frankly a disgusting challenge that cannot be defended in any way and I fully expected the whole wrath of the disciplinary panel, and I said that Griffin should have an example made of him, and that he couldn’t complain if he received a lengthy ban.
Imagine my surprise when Griffin was only handed a one match ban! I honestly could not believe what I was reading, I even thought surely it must be for a different incident that I wasn’t aware of maybe earlier in the game, before his horrendous red card moment.
I’m wondering if the RFL Disciplinary panel are even aware of the consequences of their actions, and how much influence they have on the game? In a day and age when they claim that player welfare is of paramount importance, what sort of message are they sending out with this paltry, almost token ban, for a player who showed such disregard for the safety of a fellow player?
In only banning Griffin for one game I believe the disciplinary panel have set a dangerous precedent. Any player looking at that challenge, knowing they’ll only get banned for one game are hardly going to be discouraged from making similarly dangerous challenges.
Earlier this year Hull Kingston Rovers captain Joel Tomkins was put in hospital overnight when Warrington marquee-man Blake Austin attacked his head, alarmingly then Austin was found to have no case to answer, let alone given a ban.
I’m sure there are several other cases people could point to when such dangerous challenges have gone either unpunished or have received the sort of token ban that Griffin appears to have got away with.
Another guideline I could point out about a more respectable ban for such an incident occurred at the KCOM Stadium last year. In a victory over the Wolves, Hull FC winger Bureta Faraimo suffered a head high challenge by Declan Patton, for which the Warrington half-back also received a straight red card like Griffin did on Friday night.
On that occasion Patton received a FIVE match ban. This was a ban more befitting of such a dangerous tackle. Again it just looks like the RFL maybe giving certain players preferential treatment, or just simply not understanding just how dangerous a certain type of challenge actually is!
As a Hull FC supporter I personally should be relieved that Griffin will only miss our game at Castleford on Thursday night, but trust me, I am not happy about it in any way. What Griffin did to Inu on Friday night was disgraceful and should be treated accordingly, with a lengthy ban, a punishment to fit the crime.
My larger point here, trust me this is not just about Josh Griffin it’s about any player capable of making a challenge similar to the one he made, is about player welfare and the influence the disciplinary panel can have on it.
If player welfare is such an important issue for the RFL, they need to start proving it, with better protection against such incidents. It should start with bans that are going to convince players that if they are found guilty, they know they’re going to be sat on the sidelines for longer, risking their chances of getting back into the team if their replacement has a run of games to impress in. A one match ban is just simply nowhere near enough!