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Exclusive: RFL reveal reasons behind Matty Lees and George Williams ban decisions

As Wigan Warriors star Bevan French collected the Man of Steel award, Warrington Wolves star George Williams was handed a two-match ban – Williams had initially been banned for one game after a late hit against St Helens in the Super League play-offs.

The ban was appealed and it has now been revealed that Williams’ appeal failed and he was handed a second game ban, with the appeal deemed ‘frivilous’. This was a very different outcome to Matty Lees who had a similar ban overturned.

At tribunal last night his appeal was rejected meaning that an extra game was tacked on, with England captain Williams now to miss the first two of England’s three Tests against Tonga.

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 was decided that George Williams should be issued with an extra game, with the tribunal feeling the situation was different to that of Matty Lees as that appeal was deemed to have significantly more merit to it.”

Thus, it seems that there was nothing the RFL could do.

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.

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