Super League and RFL launch investigation after huge brawl between fans of Warrington Wolves and Catalans Dragons

4 Aug

Super League and the RFL will launch an investigation into the ugly scenes which marred the end of Saturday’s clash between Catalans Dragons and Warrington in Perpignan.

Catalans duo Sam Tomkins and Michael McIlorum saw red after the match for their role in an on-field fracas, while tempers also flared in the stands, with fans trying to climb over barriers in ugly scenes as punches reigned down.

Warrington’s Jake Mamo also received a second yellow card in the incident, as the Dragons defeated Warrington 30-10.

Warrington and Catalans fans clash in Perpignan

“We were appalled to see the pictures from Perpignan, and an investigation will be launched,” read a joint statement from Super League and the RFL.

“The scenes are alien to Super League and have no place in our game. We will be taking firm action to make it clear this behaviour is totally unacceptable.”

A Warrington statement explained that the club is “working in conjunction with Catalans Dragons and Super League to gather further information”, while Bernard Guasch – the hosts’ chairman – said: “We are now waiting for the CCTV footage before making any decision.”

Warrington’s release added: “We sincerely believe that this behaviour does not reflect the vast majority of our loyal and supportive fan base following the team in France this weekend.”

There were reports of chairs and glass being thrown

Man of the match Tomkins had created three tries and kicked seven goals as Catalans claimed a 30-10 victory.

“We’ve always had good challenges against Catalans every time we play them,” said Warrington coach Steve Price. “It was really disappointing how the game finished – you don’t like to see that, do you?”

When asked whether he thought events on the pitch had influenced those off it, Price responded: “What do you reckon? I think you’re answering the question yourself there.”

Price also criticised the officiating of referee James Child – a sentiment echoed by opposite number Steve McNamara.

“I’m clearly not happy with the whole of the game in terms of how it was managed,” said McNamara. “After the game I will take that up with the relevant people.

“I think it is best to stay nice and calm and speak to the relevant people and deal with the issues that will be brought up from that game.

“I have no idea how (the scenes at the end of the game) have come about, but it’s disgraceful scenes that we don’t want to see in our sport and I’m sure, again, the relevant people will look into that and find out.

“I just sincerely hope that no one is hurt from that because it didn’t look good.”

McNamara did, however, hit out at a suggestion from Price that his side had deliberately slowed the game down.

“I’m sick and tired of every time a team comes here and complains about the tactics and how tough it is and how difficult it is,” he said.

“I’ve said this numerous times, we have to do it 14, 15, 16 times a year. We face it every week when we travel away, yet teams want to whinge and carry on when they come here because it’s our ground.

“The best team won today and the best team won by a long way in the end and that result was correct. Nothing to do with anything other than the better team won on the day, simple as that.”

Price added that it was ‘way too early’ to offer an update on the fitness of Blake Austin, who left the field with a suspected ankle injury.

The result meant St Helens took the League Leaders’ Shield, with Warrington cut adrift.

Ben Crooks: Hull KR winger suffers broken vertebra during Super League fixture

19 Feb

Ben Crooks suffered a broken vertebra during his Hull KR’s 22-12 defeat of London Broncos on Sunday, the Super League club have announced.

After failing to return to the field for the second half, the former Hull, Castleford and Leigh winger was taken to hospital for x-rays and scans for a full diagnosis of the injury.

Crooks suffered the injury during Hull KR’s defeat of London Broncos

Rovers say Crooks will be sidelined for up to six weeks.

“Hull Kingston Rovers can confirm that Ben Crooks will be sidelined for up to six weeks after suffering a back injury against London Broncos last weekend,” a club statement read.

“The club will work closely with Ben to ensure he returns to full fitness and ready for match action as soon as possible.”

Crooks admitted he was worried about the severity of his injury when doctors sent him for a CT scan after initial tests.

“When I got there I had an X-ray and the doctor said I had a chipped piece of bone,” Crooks told the Yorkshire Post. “But they then sent me for a CT scan to get a better picture of it.

“As soon as he said that – that I needed more scans and tests – it did set my heart racing a little.

“You start wondering if it will heal on its own, will I need surgery to have something corrected, is it career-threatening or even life-threatening?

“When it comes to your spine or your neck you do start to think the worst; things flash through your head pretty quickly.

“But luckily it’s not a bad one. It will keep me out for at least six weeks and I’ll be in a bit of pain, but it’s nothing too threatening.”

Hull FC 18-26 Castleford: Two tries from Michael Shenton helps Tigers make it two wins from two in Super League

7 Feb

It’s two wins in two Betfred Super League games for Castleford as they claimed a 26-18 victory over Hull FC at the KCOM Stadium.

Tigers skipper Michael Shenton scored two of their five tries despite three missed conversions from Paul McShane, leaving Hull without a point so far this season.

Shenton was the game’s standout player

More worryingly for the Black and Whites, their losing run now stands at 13 games dating back to June 2018.

Shenton gave the visitors the ideal start with the game’s opening try in the fourth minute. Jake Trueman broke free from Hakim Miloudi’s tackle to create the opening for Shenton. Paul McShane’s conversion gave Castleford an early 6-0 advantage.

It got better for Daryl Powell’s side when they scored their second try in the 13th minute. McShane’s grubber kick was grounded by Jesse Sene-Lefao despite the attempts of Hull prop Scott Taylor to defend his line. McShane was off target with his conversion attempt, but his side led 10-0.

Castleford raced to a 10-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes

Hull eventually managed to get downfield and put the Tigers under pressure on their own try line. Moments after Mark Minichiello was held up, Joe Westerman powered his way over the line against his old. Marc Sneyd’s conversion cut Castleford’s lead to 10-6.

Hull were level in the 27th minute through a well-worked try between Hull’s two half-backs with Sneyd’s precision kick collected superbly by Jake Connor to score on his return from a one-match suspension. Sneyd’s conversion edge Hull into a 12-10 lead after 27 minutes.

Castleford ended the first half in the same manner they began it, by attacking Hull’s line. Again it was Tigers skipper Shenton finishing the move that was made easier by Miloudi’s decision to vacate his outside position in the defensive line that made Shenton’s job a lot simpler.

McShane found the conversion close to the touchline much harder and his missed attempt meant the visitors led 14-12 at the break.

Eight minutes into the second half, Castleford extended their lead to 18-12 with their third unconverted try of the game. James Clare ended a flowing attack by grounding the ball in mid air to avoid going into touch.

Hull were then denied a try when Connor’s score was disallowed for an obstruction prior to him strolling through to score.

In their next set, Castleford extended their lead to 24-12 with their fifth try of the contest. McShane, who was at the heart of most of the Tigers’ attacks, dropped a grubber kick through for Junior Moors to ground. McShane ended his run of missed goals by adding the extras.

But Hull came back with a try four minutes later when Jordan Lane was sent over the whitewash by Jamie Shaul. Sneyd’s conversion closed Castleford’s lead to six points.

Hull scored three tries in the game but it was not enough to get anything out of the game

Castleford made it an eight-point game when they were awarded a penalty 17 minutes from time. With three missed kicks to his name, McShane handed the kicking duties to Jordan Rankin who split the uprights with his kick to make it 26-18.

Needing to score twice to rescue anything from the game, Hull were unable to threaten the visitors’ line in the closing stages of the game.

Wigan Warriors: Super League champions docked two points ahead of 2019 season

30 Jan

Super League champions Wigan Warriors have been docked two points for a salary cap breach.

The breach occurred during 2017 and the penalty, which includes a £5,000 fine, relates to six separate payments totalling £14,700, which were not declared to the Rugby Football League.

Super League champions Wigan have been docked two points

It means that Wigan Warriors, now under new head coach Adrian Lam, will begin their title defence at St Helens on Thursday night on minus two points.

The RFL says the club were charged with breaches in late 2018, following the audit of the 2017 salary cap, in relation to a number of payments that were not declared, including the payment of agent fees and a flight allowance.

Dom Manfredi celebrates scoring a try for Wigan during the Super League Grand Final

The Warriors initially disputed that these payments were relevant to the salary cap, leading to the establishment of the independent tribunal, but then admitted prior to the tribunal that all but one of the payments should have been included in their salary-cap valuation for the season.

Wigan intend to appeal against the points deduction, arguing it is disproportionate.

The club claim the breach was due to an administrative error arising from six small invoices of between £2,000 and £3,000 for agents’ fees which were overlooked and meant they exceeded the £1.825million cap by 0.8 per cent.

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan said: “This is not an integrity or dishonesty issue, purely an administrative error by a new financial team in an exceptionally busy and disruptive circumstance.

“This breach clearly did not affect the competitive balance of the competition in 2017 yet the immediate deduction of two points does affect the competitive balance of the competition in 2019.”

Wigan 12-4 Warrington: Warriors secure fifth title with victory over Wolves in Super League Grand Final

13 Oct

Wigan coach Shaun Wane went out on a high as his side managed to grind out a fifth Super League title – beating Warrington 12-4 in an error-strewn but entertaining Grand Final.

The hero was Warriors winger Dom Manfredi, who scored two of his side’s three tries after being out of the game for more than two years with a career-threatening knee injury.

This is Wigan’s fifth Super League title

The Wigan players attempted to play down the sentimental factor in the build-up but the tears at the end of an absorbing contest told a different tale as they joyously celebrated with Wane, who will now go into rugby union with a third Grand Final ring.

There was also a fitting finale for Sam Tomkins, John Bateman and Ryan Sutton but there were tears of a different kind for the Wolves as they slumped to a fourth defeat in as many Grand Finals.

Tyrone Roberts, George King and Bodene Thompson were all on the losing side in their final match for Warrington, who also fell agonisingly short in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley in August.

The drama unfolded on an unseasonably balmy evening in Manchester where it was red-hot out in the middle.

This is Warrington’s fourth defeat in as many Grand Finals

Tempers were frayed throughout the first half and appeared to boil over as the teams went down the tunnel at half-time.

The Rugby Football League says the fracas, which appeared to be sparked by a push from Warrington centre Bryson Goodwin on Wigan full-back Morgan Escare, will be included in the match commissioner’s report and scrutinised on Monday.

In the fiery contest, Tomkins went desperately close to becoming the first man to be sin-binned in a Grand Final as he escaped with warnings from referee Robert Hicks for a trip on Goodwin and using his knees to the head of Daryl Clark.

Yet in between the spats and a flurry of handling errors, watching England head coach Wayne Bennett, who was seen chatting with England rugby union coach Eddie Jones at half-time, will have appreciated the flashes of creative brilliance from three members of his squad chosen to face New Zealand.

Warrington full-back Stefan Ratchford’s cut-out pass got former Wigan winger Josh Charnley over for the game’s first try while classy centre play from Oliver Gildart worked Manfredi over for an equalising score and Wigan’s other winger Tom Davies touched down an inch-perfect kick from George Williams to put his side in front.

There were also acts of bravery worthy of such a big occasion, notably from Wigan scrum-half Thomas Leuluai, who went off with a head knock six minutes before half-time but returned for the start of the second half, and Manfredi who sustained a nasty facial cut while forcing his opposite number Tom Lineham into the corner flag but was thrust back into the action after undergoing repairs.

Trailing 8-4 at the break, Warrington lost much of their direction in the second half and relied on the cutting thrust of man of the match Ratchford to find a way through the Wigan defence, where he found replacement full-back Escare an immovable last line of defence.

The kicking game of Williams kept the Warriors on the front foot and the Wolves suffered a blow when Roberts was forced off with a knee injury 15 minutes from the end.

Manfredi’s late try secured the triumph for Wigan

Wigan’s best scoring chance in the second half came from a break by Escare, who was stopped in his tracks by the excellent Ratchford, while the Frenchman made a hash of a drop-goal attempt and Tomkins was wide with an ambitious penalty shot from almost halfway.

However, Wane’s nerves were finally settled four minutes from the end when Manfredi took Tomkins’ pass to dive over for his second try and the outgoing coach punched the air in celebration.

St Helens’ Ben Barba named 2018 Man of Steel ahead of return to Australia

9 Oct

St Helens full-back Ben Barba has been named 2018 Steve Prescott Man of Steel ahead of his return to his homeland of Australia.

The 29-year-old was voted Super League’s outstanding performer this season by a poll of his fellow players and presented with the award at the annual ceremony in Manchester.

Barba has been named Man of Steel ahead of his return to Australia

Barba, who held off competition from club-mate James Roby and Wigan forward John Bateman, is cutting short his stay in Super League after becoming homesick and will play for North Queensland Cowboys in 2019.

He made a blistering start to the season with a string of man-of-the-match performances to put Saints on their way to winning the League Leaders’ Shield.

The former Cronulla and Brisbane full-back is only the second player to win both the Man of Steel and the NRL equivalent, the Dally M, which he earned in 2012 during a spell with Canterbury Bulldogs.

Former Hull KR forward Gavin Miller won the Dally M Award as a Cronulla player in 1988, two years after being named Man of Steel.

Barba, who was Super League’s top tryscorer with 28 touchdowns, is the first Australian to win the award since former Wigan winger Pat Richards in 2010 and the sixth in all.

He is the eighth St Helens winner of the prestigious award, which was introduced in 1977.

Wigan’s Shaun Wane was named coach of the year for the first time after steering the Warriors to a fifth Grand Final in seven seasons in his farewell campaign at his hometown club, and Castleford’s 19-year-old half-back Jake Trueman was named young player.

Super League news: Wigan announce coach Shaun Wane to leave at the end of the 2018 season
Wane has been named coach of the year for the first time just before he leaves Wigan

Castleford’s Georgia Roche, 17, made history be becoming the inaugural winner of the Woman of Steel award.

Warrington were named club of the year for not only reaching both the Grand Final and the Challenge Cup final but for their off-field work which includes a leading role in the formation of Physical Disability Rugby League.

Hull KR pip Toronto to third place in Super League Qualifiers with routine 30-0 win over already relegated Widnes

30 Sep

Hull KR ensured they will be playing in the Super League in 2019 after racing to a 30-0 win over already relegated Widnes at KCOM Craven Park.

Rovers had it wrapped up at half-time when they raced to a 20-0 lead in a game where they needed to win by 14 points to beat Toronto to third place in the Qualifiers going into their final Super 8s match.

James Greenwood scored the game’s first try

It means Toronto will be at home to London Broncos in next Sunday’s Million Pound Game to determine the 12th and final place in Super League for 2019, with the Rugby Football League confirming both clubs are eligible for promotion.

Victory provided a timely pick-me-up for ailing Rovers captain Shaun Lunt, who remains hospitalised with an infection, while a sixth defeat in seven matches meant a disappointing end for Widnes duo Chris Houston and Aaron Heremaia as they entered retirement after the final whistle.

Interim head coach Francis Cummins is facing an uncertain future but the Vikings will have the services of a crop of promising youngsters like Owen Buckley, Joe Lyons and Keanan Brand, who all showed up well in the final game, as well as a £500,000 parachute payment, to help them regroup in the Championship.

Shaun Lunt is currently hospitalised with an infection

Rovers, promoted 12 months ago without having to go through the Million-Pound Game, were desperate to secure survival without it, especially having experienced the heartbreak of defeat in 2016.

There was an early sign of nerves when second-rower Joel Tomkins took a McGuire pass to reach the line only to lose control of the ball and Rovers suffered a blow when stand-off Todd Carney went off on six minutes after taking a heavy blow.

But the versatile Maurice Blair, back in action earlier than expected from a calf injury, slotted effortlessly into the half-back role alongside the influential McGuire as the Robins set about their task in earnest.

McGuire’s short pass got second-rower James Greenwood through a gaping hole in the Vikings defence for the game’s first try and centre Ben Crooks gathered his high kick to score his first try for the club.

Craig Hall kicked both conversions and added a penalty to extend the lead to the required 14-0 with an hour left on the clock.

As the home side continued to make all the running, centre Junior Vaivai dropped Blair’s pass with the line beckoning but there was no stopping full-back Chris Atkin after McGuire had raced clear from Mose Masoe’s offload inside his own half.

Trailing 20-0 at the break, there was no way back for the visitors when Rovers created an overlap for Vaivai to go in for their fourth try on 57 minutes and Hall added another nine minutes later.

They might have scored more as Widnes’ performance disintegrated in the final quarter – they finished with 12 men after Tom Gilmore was sin-binned for dissent – but Tim Sheens’ men had long since ensured it was job done.

Wigan Warriors and Catalans Dragons discussing idea of playing Betfred Super League match at Barcelona’s Nou Camp

27 Sep

Catalans Dragons and Wigan Warriors are reportedly in talks to play a Betfred Super League match at Barcelona’s Nou Camp next season.

It is understood the two clubs have agreed to the prospect and are negotiating with Barcelona to find a weekend that suits all parties.

Catalans took on Warrington Wolves at Barcelona’s Olympic stadium in 2009

Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barcelona’s chairman, invited Catalans to play at the Nou Camp after the club paraded the Challenge Cup at the stadium on Sunday.

A venue swith would have to be approved by the Rugby Football League, but according to Sky Sports News the organisation is backing the idea.

It would be the first time the Nou Camp has hosted a Rugby League game.

However, Catalans played Warrington in the city’s Olympic Stadium in 2009 in what was the first ever Rugby League match to be played in Spain.