RFL chief Robert Hicks explains process behind Super League charges as Castleford Tigers react

Aaron Bower
Franklin Pele sending off

Liam Moore sends Hull FC's Franklin Pele off during their Round 1 derby against Hull KR

The Rugby Football League’s director of operations and legal, Robert Hicks, has attempted to lay out the thought process behind the significant number of charges issued to Super League players following the opening round of the 2024 season – while Castleford Tigers have demanded a meeting with the governing body after their prop, Liam Watts, was ordered to face a tribunal on Tuesday evening.

Watts is looking at a suspension of between four and six games after being charge with a Grade E offence after being sent off during Castleford’s defeat to Wigan Warriors on Saturday evening. Another prop who was red-carded, Hull’s Franklin Pele, is facing a similar fate and will also appear before a tribunal on Tuesday.

13 players were shown cards in the opening weekend of the season and following the games, nine players have been handed bans: a total which is likely to rise to 11 if, as expected, Watts and Pele receive bans.

But Castleford have already responded to Watts’ charge, with their director of rugby, Danny Wilson, issuing a statement saying they want to ‘get their house in order’ and to do that, they need a meeting with the relevant authorities to understand how and why charges are graded the way they are.

RELATED: Castleford Tigers and Hull FC men to face tribunal as Harry Smith cleared for World Club Challenge

He said: “I think you could see everybody in the game’s reaction to Liam Watts alone. At the end of the day, people make mistakes, players make mistakes, match officials make mistakes, and you can live with that if it sits with that game.

“When it goes to the match review panel it gets graded in a way in comparison to other instances over the weekend. We’re left a bit confused so we need to get our house in order pretty quick. To do that, we need some explanation of why they are graded the way they are. We’ve asked for an urgent meeting with the powers that be for some explanation.”

Meanwhile, Hicks has spoken out to attempt to apply context to the significant number of bans handed out following the opening round of the season.

He said: “The number of yellow and red cards shown in the opening round of the Betfred Super League has already become a talking point, and doubtless the number of charges arising from the MRP meeting will be similar – but it is important to provide some context.

“Of the 13 cards shown, 10 of the incidents would have led to a card being shown under the framework that applied in 2023. One area which has made a difference is in head on head contact, and the responsibility of attacking and tackling players in this area.

“Just as the sport should be grateful to the commitment of Match Officials and the MRP in implementing change at such a pivotal period for the sport, we also reiterate our gratitude to clubs, coaches and players for their positive approach over recent months.

“It was a highly successful opening round of Betfred Super League fixtures, and it is right that the focus is already turning to the second round of matches, and also the Betfred World Club Challenge.”

READ NEXT: Comparing how new rugby league laws affected Super League’s penalty count in Round 1