As the Super League season draws to a close, we will be able to watch the likes of Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves, Hull KR, Leigh Leopards, Catalans Dragons and St Helens fight for Super League glory.
That should no doubt dominate headlines but tonight another story has emerged with the RFL taking action against five Super League personnel.
This is because of comments made about match officials.
Three Super League players, and two head coaches, have been fined for recent breaches of the Operational Rules relating to criticism of match officials.
Luke Gale of Wakefield Trinity, Sam Lisone of Leeds Rhinos and Jake Trueman of Hull FC have each been fined £500, with £250 suspended until the end of the 2024 season, for breaching Operational Rules D1:1 (b) – Improper Conduct, and C2.10 – Behaviour Standards.
In each case, the criticism appeared on social media.
Letters to the players include the following explanation: “Please be aware that your position in the game as a Super League player clearly gives you significant standing within the sport and you should be more considered when discussing such matters.”
Salford’s head coach Paul Rowley has been fined £4,000 – £2,500 of which is suspended until the end of the 2024 season – for his comments following the Betfred Super League fixture against St Helens on August 6.
Huddersfield’s head coach Ian Watson has been fined £500, suspended until the end of the 2024 season, for his comments following a Betfred Super League fixture at St Helens on August 13.
Rowley’s fine comes for the comments he said about Jack Smith.
“It’s so hard. If we’d have won the game, I’d come in and say probably exactly the same thing. I thought the officials were a disgrace,” he said.
“I think Jack, I’ve watched him on telly, he’s been a disgrace a few times this year, one for us at Warrington at home. So three games in a row now we’ve been absolutely let down.”
Rowley also questioned why they never get Chris Kendall or Liam Moore:
“So clearly Kendall and Liam Moore are the best two refs who get all the cup finals, we don’t get them too much so we must be deemed poor quality games.
“It’s kind of gloves off, I’m usually quite measured and take my time I don’t like to criticise because we’ve lost obviously, but again, I’d have said the same thing in victory.
“Games are very much decided by officials quite often and the obvious response to that will be, ‘they don’t miss a tackle’, ‘they don’t do a forward pass’, and no they don’t, but they don’t get batted 25 times a game either so a lot of it is just visual.
“Then when you’ve got a bright pink boot four foot in front of you on a touchline, then you would hope that somebody competent would make the right decision. As a result of that the sequence continues and we get a man in the bin and then there’s a try scored from a knock on.
“Usually in the last two games we’ve been on the wrong side of things and I never tread that path with the players. I always worry about what we can do and what we can do better but I’m finding it very, very hard to go in there and hit the players with a stick because I think they did everything we asked of them.
“I thought we were physically good, I thought the game was decided by the officiating. I can’t be any clearer than that. I’m happy to put it out there and I think it’s factual. Well I know it’s factual and so I don’t think I can be criticised for saying it as it is.”