On Tuesday night as Super League was celebrated with Wigan Warriors star Bevan French winning the Man of Steel but there was also controversy around Warrington Wolves star George Williams.
The stand off was given a two match ban after a shoulder charge against St Helens in the Super League play-offs.
He was initially banned for one game but that ban was doubled.
At tribunal Tuesday night his appeal was rejected and found to be frivolous meaning that an extra game was tacked on, meaning he will now miss the first two of England’s three Tonga tests.
Serious About Rugby League reached out to the RFL over this decision and they said: “Frivolous means that the appeal, in the opinion of tribunal members, had no basis or merit to it within the rules and laws of the game.”
Thus, it seems that there was nothing the RFL could do. Although there could be in the future.
It seems silly that an incident in Super League should punish England and therefore a change should be made so that club bans are served in Super League or the Challenge Cup and international bans should be served in international games.
St Helens’ Matty Lees also appeared at the tribunal contesting a Grade B shoulder charge and he found himself successful, seeing the appeal dropped from a Grade B and one game ban to a Grade A and a £250 fine.
Lees therefore will be able to play in the test at his home team’s Totally Wicked Stadium on 22nd October.
The Operational Rules Tribunal’s findings were as follows:
“George Williams of Warrington Wolves pleaded guilty to a Grade B charge of a shoulder charge in the Betfred Super League Play-Off at St Helens on September 30, but challenged the grading.
“The independent Operational Rules Tribunal rejected the challenge, and deemed it frivolous, therefore increasing the resulting ban from one match to two.
“Matty Lees of St Helens also pleaded guilty to a Grade B charge of a shoulder charge in the Betfred Super League Play-Off at Catalans Dragons on October 6, and also challenged the grading.
“The independent Operational Rules Tribunal upheld this challenge, downgrading the charge to Grade A, and therefore reducing the punishment from a one-match suspension to a £250 fine.
“Lees will therefore be available for England’s first Test against Tonga on October 22, if selected.”
Losing Williams is a major blow for England given his form at times throughout the season and also his incredible Man of the Match performance in his debut as captain against France.
Talk will quickly turn to who replaces him with the armband but also in the halves for those two games in which he misses with the first game of the series only 11 days away now.