10 of the longest bans in rugby league

This week saw Wigan academy player and Welsh international Rhys Pugsley banned for eight years after failing a drug test for the second time in as many years.

This got us wondering, where does the 21-year old’s suspension rank on the list of the longest bans in Rugby League history?

1) 17-year-old Western City Tigers player

This teenager saw his entire career disappear before his eyes when he was handed a 25-year ban for his part in a mass brawl after a game between the Penrith Waratahs and Western City Tigers under-19 teams, back in 2013.

A whole host of other players were also handed lengthy suspensions for their part in the altercation – two other teenagers were handed bans that will prevent them from playing Rugby League for two decades.

2) 16-year-old Blacktown City player

In 2009, another junior Rugby League player was handed a potentially career-ending 20-year ban for a scathing attack on Lower Mountains player Miki Hughes, which left him with a broken nose and suspected eye fracture.

After the disgraceful incident which came during another fight between several individuals, some parents congratulated players as they were leaving the field.

3) Bob Cooper

Staying in Australia (what is going on over there?), the Western Suburbs Magpies second-rower received a 15-month suspension in 1982 for taking out three Illawarra Steelers players.

Cooper threw three punches, one of which he supposedly didn’t remember – the Steelers players involved were left with a broken jaw, fractured cheekbones and one was heavily concussed.

4) Ben Flower

The 2014 Super League Grand Final will be remembered for Wigan prop Ben Flower’s moment of madness, punching St HelensLance Hohaia, before striking the New Zealander a second time while he lay prostate on the ground.

Flower was sent off for the offence in a game which the Warriors went on to lose 14-6 – he was charged for a Grade F offence which carries a minimum of an eight-game ban but was subsequently suspended for six months, making Super League history.



5) John Hopoate

John Hopoate saw his contract with the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles terminated a day after being banned for 17 matches in 2005 for elbowing Keith Galloway in the face, leaving the then Cronulla Sharks prop unconscious.

Even if the former Tonga and Australia international had a clean record, NRL prosecutor Paul Conlon admitted the minimum suspension would be 12 weeks. And ‘Hoppa” was anything but clean, as he was infamously banned for 12 weeks in 2001 for fingering the anuses of three players during a game.

6) Terry Newton

The Wigan hooker was ruled out of contention for 12 matches in 2005 after losing an appeal against the 10-week ban handed to him following the fouls he committed in a match against St Helens.

Newton, who was also fined £600, left Sean Long with a broken cheekbone and knocked Lee Gilmour unconscious.

7) Clint Newton

The former Newcastle Knights forward was penalized for elbowing Ashton Sims, who played for St George Illawarra Dragons at the time, and ended up receiving a three-month ban back in 2004.

Newton pleaded guilty but claimed he didn’t know he had made contact with Sims until he was sent off by referee Tim Mander.

8) James Graham

The Bulldogs front-rower bit Melbourne’s Billy Slater during the 2012 NRL Grand Final and was banned for 12 matches.

Graham, who used to play for St Helens, was found guilty of biting Slater on the left ear – He missed England’s two Tests against Wales and France.

9) Greg Bird

Bird, who was playing for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, received a 10-week ban back in 2004 for kneeing South Sydney Rabbitohs winger Shane Marteene in the head.

The Australian’s agent, Gavin Orr, claimed Bird had “said he copped a couple of blows to the face during the match and he got an elbow from Shane Marteene in the tackle and just lost it.”



10) Tim Maddison

The North Queensland Cowboys prop was banned for 10 matches after elbowing Sydney Roosters’ Justin Holbrook in the throat during a match back in 2002.

North Queensland coach Graham Murray later refuted allegations he had instructed players to “take out” Holbrook.