Eamonn McManus blasts “incomprehensible” officiating at Wembley

Drew Darbyshire

St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus has slammed some of the decisions that referee Robert Hicks made at Wembley last Saturday.

The Saints fell to a shock 18-4 defeat to rivals Warrington in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley last week.

Morgan Knowles thought he had scored the opener for St Helens in the opening minutes but Hicks awarded a 20-metre tap to Warrington rather than going to the screen.

As well as being frustrated by the Knowles outcome, McManus also hinted that the response to a death threat by Hicks and Warrington chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick the week before the match was a “publicity stunt”.

In his programme notes for Friday’s home game against Castleford, McManus wrote: “Warrington did perform to their full and the record books therefore rightfully belong to them on this occasion. We congratulate them as worthy winners.

“However, it would be remiss of me to be silent on the officiating both during and before the game. How a referee can be involved in a publicity stunt with the CEO of a participating club in the week before a Challenge Cup final defies belief and reason. This apparently resulted from some pathetic spat on the open sewer that is Twitter some weeks before. The fact referees go, and are allowed to go, on Twitter with fans is utterly beyond me: no good can come from it and clearly no good does.

“Resultantly, the perception of officiating impartiality was destroyed even before kick-off. This was amply consolidated, in the eye of many, in reality when Hicks comprehensibly did not go to the video referee for Morgan Knowles’ clear and legitimate opening try and then followed it up shortly with other highly questionable decisions.

“As tempting as it is, I am not blaming the individual referee. However, I am pointing out that no other sport would have allowed such a farcical and amateurish combination of self-fulfilling events to occur.”

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