RFL urged to be consistent after Challenge Cup final leniency

George Riley
Morgan Smithies and Luke Yates Challenge Cup SWpix

Morgan Smithies (left) and Luke Yates (right) received bans from the Challenge Cup final | Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

The failure to sanction Morgan Smithies or Luke Yates in the Challenge Cup final was “not morally right” and highlighted inconsistencies in refereeing that need addressing.

That’s the view of former Super League Dream Team forward Eorl Crabtree after seeing Smithies banned for four matches, and Yates for two, in the fallout from Saturday’s showpiece game won in thrilling fashion by Wigan.

The 21-year-old Smithies was not cautioned for either high tackle on Huddersfield pair Ricky Leutele and Joe Greenwood, while Yates escaped immediate punishment for his high tackle.

No player has been sin-binned in a Challenge Cup final for 21 years, and given the crackdown on high and mis-timed contacts this season Crabtree is astonished at the leniency shown on Saturday.

He said: “The Morgan Smithies incidents should have been dealt with differently at the time. You can’t argue with that, they’ve both been banned. Luke Yates should have been dealt with if the referee had seen it. But the other one is blatant. Everybody saw it. In any other game – and this is the frustration – if you touch the face you get a yellow card. Yet you get to the final and the rules change. How is it different? And that is the frustration.

“It is just not right, not morally right. It should be the same every game. I have no issue with them not being yellow cards; if it is the same for the rest of the season.”

Eorl Crabtree: Challenge Cup final or not – we need transparency in our rules

Speaking on the latest edition of the Love Rugby League Podcast, out every Wednesday on all major podcast platforms, Crabtree is animated in his desire for consistency in the disciplinary application so that every player and every fan knows where they stand.

“Lets be transparent in what we are doing as a sport; and not just make it up as we go along and adapt it to how we see fit at the time,” he says.

“Big games have more intensity, it is natural. Yes, you could have leniency but it has to be through the rest of the season as well. We can’t just pick and choose which game it is.”

PODCAST: Eorl Crabtree dissects Challenge Cup final & predicts successful Huddersfield future