Tribunal had ‘no choice’ but to ban Paul Vaughan despite Sione Mata’utia’s admission of time wasting

Paul Vaughan has been one of the standout players in Super League this season having joined from the NRL prior to the 2023 campaign, however it seems the former Australian international will have a sour ending to the season given his suspension for actions last week against St Helens.

Vaughan was hit with a four game match ban after the Grade E charge of ‘making unnecessary contact with a player who may be injured’ at last night’s Operational Rules Tribunal, something that Warrington will seemingly now contest.

That’s because Vaughan has been named in Wire’s 21-man squad for their clash with Huddersfield Giants on Friday evening, indicating that the club will challenge the decision later tonight.

The minutes from that Operational Rules Tribunal have now been released and it’s highlighted how the tribunal had “no choice” but to ban Vaughan, despite an admission from the supposed injured player, Sione Mata’utia, that he wasn’t injured and was indeed time wasting.

The tribunal clearly outlines that it’s not for a player to determine the injury status of another player, part of the critical charge against Vaughan.

It’s explained that: “Whether a player is in fact injured, and if so to what extent, is exclusively a matter for the assessment of the medical staff in conjunction with any necessary match official input. Contact, of whatever type/force, from another player upon a seemingly injured player has the potential for serious medical consequences for that injured player.”

CEO Karl Fitzpatrick, head coach Gary Chambers and head of rugby Kyle Leuluai attended with Vaughan to present evidence with Fitzpatrick explaining how Mata’utia was simply trying to slow the game down and that a ban would hurt Vaughan’s playoff ambitions.

Interestingly though the tribunal reveal that Siona Mata’utia had sent an email to them which outlined he was acting and was in fact not injured.

That’s considered irrelevant by the tribunal who state: “Mr Vaughan rightly assessed, as it turned out, that Mr Matautia was simply wasting time. But it was not his assessment to make at the time, and no amount of hindsight alters that position.”

In turn their decision is as such:

“So, whilst the Tribunal consider that this was very much at the bottom of the scale for an offence of this sort, they are reasonably satisfied that it has been proved.

“The whole point of this offence is that players in the heat of battle are not to make assessments as to who is injured or not.

“Players must leave opponents to get to their feet or receive treatment. If they are time wasting the Referee should intervene. Players cannot take it into their own hands.

“Each player has a duty of care to their opponent and to ensure that their actions do not in any way endanger that opponent.

“Given the findings the Tribunal feel they have no choice, however, they do feel that any suspension should be at the bottom of the Grade E scale. They therefore suspend the player for 4-matches. He is also fined £500.”