By JACK AMI
THE Papua New Guinea National Rugby League board’s decision to ban an official and suspend players for assault and misconduct has been welcomed by the national referees association.
The association has also backed the police charges against the attackers.
PNG Rugby Football League Referees director Joe Peregua said yesterday he felt compelled to stand up for his referees after reading in The National that Eagles captain Junior Rau, who was subsequently banned for 10 years by the PNGNRL, claimed he was not part of the violence but had tried to protect Gurias player Ezra Gotuno during the melee.
Peregua challenged Rau’s version of events, saying the 23-year-old had indeed attacked one of his referees.
The attack on referee Aaron Henry by Eagles trainer Stanley Akinu after the Gurias beat the Western Highlands side 19-12 in the Digicel Cup preliminary final, triggered a field invasion by fans at the Sir John Guise Stadium.
Peregua was critical of the media’s reporting on the events of that Saturday (August 27).
“We’re concerned that what has been coming out on the paper has only been one person’s side of what happened that day,” Peregua said.
“The media shouldn’t be reporting one side only. They got the side of the person who was banned for attacking a referee but what about the referees’ side?”
Peregua said the media had an important role to play in highlighting violence in the code but not to take sides or preempt the role of the PNGNRL judiciary because the decisions were made by the body tasked for that role.
“If someone thinks the fines and bans are harsh then that’s their opinion. The media is supposed to report both sides and put out information based on facts and authorised media releases.
“Let’s not forget who the initial victims were. It was the referee and his assistants. That seems to have been forgotten.”
Peregua confirmed that touch judge Benson Kaupa was assaulted by Rau near the grandstand and suffered injuries to his forehead and jaw.
“Ben recognised Rau from his days in the Port Moresby schoolboys competition playing for De La Salle. He’s actually refereed Junior on several occasions,” Peregua said.
He also confirmed the attack on inter-change official Paul Wani, who was punched by Akinu.
Peregua said Wani was trying to hold Akinu back as he confronted referee Henry when he was punched in the mouth.
Henry was rescued by Eagles board chairman Bob Pakindi but not before taking several blows.
By JACK AMI