By JACK AMI
A RIGO Rugby League Under-20 player, Ben Roberts of the Saroa Keina Titans, was given a life ban for attacking referee Ben Kaupa after their grand final two weeks ago.
The ban was handed down by the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) independent tribunal at the National Football Stadium last Thursday.
This is the second life ban handed down by the code after Digicel Cup players Francis Ray and Junior Rau of the Hagen Eagles were given the same penalty for violent conduct in their Digicel Cup preliminary final against the Agmark Gurias on Sept 27. Roberts struck Port Moresby Rugby League Kaupa on the head with a piece of wood during the final between the Titans and Saroa Raiders with three minutes on the clock.
The Titans were fined total of K4000: spectator violence (K1000), invading the field (K2000) and assaulting the referee (K1000).
The Rigo Rugby League was ordered to pay K1000 each in compensation to Kaupa as well as the two Raiders players, who sustained injures as a result of the poor security provided by the organisers on the day.
The league was also ordered to erect a barrier/fence around the field before the start of ther 2017 season or face further sanctions by the PNGRFL.
The incident was witnessed by PNGRFL chief executive officer Bob Cutmore and Southern Confederation director Gwaibo Mairi.
Cutmore described the incident as disgraceful adding that violence had no place in the sport. Kwikila police station senior sergeant Vele Aga said a report was submitted and police would arrest and charge Roberts with assault.
Aga said Roberts had gone into hiding but they would find him and ensure that he answered for his actions.
Rigo Rugby League president Albert Adila accepted the decisions by the tribunal.
Titans president and sponsor George Enane said he would appeal the decision within the seven-day deadline.
It was not established what grounds Enane will appeal on as evidence was presented during the Tribunal hearing with the decision made.
Raiders president and sponsor Nelson Saroa from Saroa Lawyers commended the tribunal on their decision to impose a life ban. PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka said a senior referee was assaulted and he wanted immediate taken hence the meeting of the tribunal.
Tsaka said he hoped the penalties served as a warning to local leagues around the country.
“We are trying to discourage violence in rugby league but here we have yet another serious incident happening in a rural league in Rigo,” Tsaka said. Mairi it was proper that the decision on the penalty was made by PNGRFL level tribunal and not the local league.
Tribunal chairman Simon Maima said the decision was maximum penalty they could reach.
Maima said the Titans had the right to appeal and it would cost them K500 — a major league like the Port Moresby RFL would have paid at K5000 to appeal.
By JACK AMI