Addin Fonua-Blake protests with the referee
Addin Fonua-Blake protests with the referee

FROM THE GRANDSTAND: Punishment fit the crime?

IT’S BEEN an age old question that has stumped sociologists and philosophers for generations. Now it has reached the grandstand with the return of Nigel to our regular ranks. With his latte and sushi he always has an informed opinion, if slightly left field.

He bemoans the fact that suspended Manly player Addin Fonua-Blake did not get the appropriate punishment when sent off the field (after the final siren) in his last game against Newcastle.

He maintains it was completely inappropriate for the player’s punishment to include time with handicapped people. I disagreed with him. He feels they were ‘used’.

The crime if you remember was that when a disputed decision went against the Manly team at the end of the match against Newcastle his frustrations and anger got the better of him and he called the referee a ‘f------ retard’. Ironically, it wasn’t the referee who made the call which was probably a wrong call but that is irrelevant. He simply sent it upstairs (the bunker) for clarification and a ruling.

After pleading guilty to the charge he accepted a two-game suspension which I believe was a bit light. Cast your mind back a few years when Blocker Roach merely patted the head of referee Eddie Ward as he left the field following an indiscretion. Blocker got four weeks!

The NRL wanted to make a statement here so they followed it up with a $20,000 fine which for once it seems was not suspended. Do you think the player himself will make the payment? I hope so. Again no complaints from Manly as they know they are on delicate ground. The money fined would go to purchasing new wheelchairs for sporting events. That seems a good idea to me.

What Nigel is complaining about it that he thinks it is rude of the NRL to simply assume its okay to make this call. Did they bother contacting the relevant authorities and ask them would they be offended if this was how the penalty was constructed.

Personally I believe it would be enlightening for all parties concerned. If the player says he didn’t really appreciate the word itself and its implications, then he needs some more education in this field and this could be the best avenue for just that.

I liked the fact that part of the penalty included doing a referee’s course of instruction which most coaches insist on anyway. There are some ignorant players that’s for sure. Also he has to put in some time with Paralympians by refereeing ten matches. I don’t believe any of the players would be offended by this and his presence could add to the occasion for them.

Finally, it raises the question of respect for referees generally. With the officials calling players by first names or nicknames it makes the informality more obvious. When I played we were addressed by a number only and had to answer with ‘Sir’ at all times. Ah, the good old days.

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