The Rugby Football League have today fined four chiefs and a player for breaches of the Operational Rules during the 2023 season, including Leigh Leopards owner Derek Beaumont and Warrington Wolves chair Stuart Middleton.
Beaumont had already seen Leigh – as a club – fined £12,000 for the events which unfolded after their Challenge Cup semi-final win over St Helens at the Halliwell Jones Stadium back in July.
Now, for his post-match rant following their final regular season game against Wigan Warriors on September 22, he himself has been handed a £2000 fine. The rant was on the microphone in one of the lounges at the Leigh Sports Village following that defeat, and was posted on social media in the aftermath.
The Leopards’ owner will have to pay £1000 of his fine now, with the other half suspended until the end of next season.
Notably, the only player to be hit with a fine today by the RFL is Oliver Gildart, and it also stems from comments made after that game. Having already moved on from Leigh to Hull KR as pre-planned ahead of 2024, the former Warriors ace will pay £500 – with another £500 suspended – for criticism of match officials, breaching the ‘Respect policy’.
Leigh Leopards & Warrington Wolves chiefs among five charged by the Rugby Football League following 2023 season
Elsewhere, two further Super League chiefs have had their wallets stung with fines this afternoon, Warrington’s Stuart Middleton and Salford Red Devils’ chair Paul King.
Middleton’s £1500 fine comes for an open letter he sent to the media following Paul Vaughan’s suspension in September. With overseas prop Vaughan still to serve some of his four-game ban come the start of the 2024 season, the RFL say comments made in that letter were ‘misleading in terms of the functioning of the Match Review Panel’.
Accordingly, Wire chair Middleton will pay half of his fine now and half will be suspended. It’s the same case for Salford’s King, who has been hit with a £2000 fine for comments he made about the Match Review Panel back in September. He too broke four Operational Rules.
The only fine outside of Super League was one for the sum of £1000 directed the way of Bradford Bulls chief executive Jason Hirst, earned for comments he made about the RFL’s disciplinary process in August amid ex-Wakefield Trinity ace Jorge Taufua’s big ban for a biting charge.
Those comments made by Hirst ‘contained inaccuracies – most significantly around the burden of proof’ according to today’s RFL press release. Again, half of his fine is suspended until the end of the 2024 campaign.
Hull KR & Salford Red Devils escape fines for crowd disorder
While there were no further fines dished out, the RFL have issued a stern warning to Super League clubs Hull KR and Salford about crowd disorder.
The Robins were fined alongside Leigh a few months ago for crowd trouble twice over at Headingley, in both their Super League win there against Leeds Rhinos and Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Wigan Warriors, both on golden point just a week apart.
Now, KR have had to ‘commit to reviewing their stewarding arrangements’ because on September 1 at Craven Park against Catalans Dragons, a supporter was able to get to and confront an interchange official.
That individual has been banned, and so too have a number of supporters from both KR & Salford following a number of incidents throughout their clash in East Hull on September 16.
The week prior, the Robins’ also saw some of their travelling fans damage seats at the John Smith’s Stadium as they beat Huddersfield Giants. The RFL say that the club ‘have also committed to ensuring their action plan extends towards their supports behaviour at away fixtures in 2024’.