Ben Flowers vicious attack on Lance Hohaia in the 2014 Super League Grand Final is the most vicious, cowardly act I have ever seen on a Rugby League field in all my life.
That Flower was sent off just two minutes into the biggest game of the year, without hesitation, says it all about how serious this attack was. This is something we have not seen in Rugby League for decades. For a lifetime. This was the sort of cowardly incident that was rubbed out of the game in the late 1970’s by administrators that knew the damage such incidents were having on the sports reputation.
For the Rugby Football League to now come out and say this incident can only receive a maximum suspension of 8 weeks is disgraceful.it shoulder what an amateur organisation the RFL has turned into. An organisation that that in 2014 doesn’t even have the backbone to protect the sport any more. An organisation that is so terrified of making a decision that it hides behind an obscure set of rules so as not to upset anyone.
Had Ben Flower done this in the NRL it would have been refered straight to the judiciary. I think the starting point for his suspension would have been an entire and they would have gone from there. They would know they needed to send a message, as custodians of the game, that this type of behaviour will not ever be tolerated again.
Those sort of thoughts would not have even made it into the heads of anyone at the Rugby Football League….
Ben Flowers attack on Lance Hohaia reminded me of two different incidents in two very differ sports.
The first was a king hit by the Melbourne Storms Danny Williams on the Wests Tigers Mark O’Neill in round 19 of the 2004 season. Williams was suspended for 8 weeks, which at the time was the longest suspension to be handed out in over a decade. It was a terrible incident, that was all of one punch. There was no follow up on the unconscious player. You can also be sure that if it happened today, 8 weeks wouldn’t have been been a starting point. He would probably have been looking at well over 10 weeks.
The other incident was the conclusion of a UFC event that saw Dan Henderson knock out Michael Bisping in 2009. Bisping has been trash talking Henderson throughout The Ultimate Fighter tournament in which he has been coaching team UK and Henderson has been coaching team USA.
After knocking Bisping out Henderson immediately followed up with a punch to the face on his unconscious opponent that is almost identical to the one Flower delivered to Hohaia. Take a look:
Being that this is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, no action was taken for the follow up punch but if you watch any official UFC reviews of this contest, the footage of the second punch is always removed as even the UFC knows that this type of incident can damage their brand!
Ben Flowers attack was seen across the world. It is the only time this year that news organisations in Australia mentioned a Super League match, and they all showed replays of the incident.
The harshest of penalties must be taken. Rugby League needs to be protected by the games administrators. Ben Flower damaged the game on Saturday evening. The only way it can be hurt any further is by the RFL handing down a weak suspension.