PNGNRL incompetence evident

Editorial, Normal

The National, Friday September 18th, 2015

 IT has been 14 days since the Digicel Cup grand final and nothing tangible has been done about the assault of referee Tim Rutherford by a fan.

The Papua New Guinea Rugby National Rugby League, the body that runs the competition, deliberated through its judiciary, on the attack on Rutherford and other matters related to the final and returned several decisions on Sept 12. 

It is important to note that whenever a hefty fine or suspension is handed down by the governing body on a participating team or players there must be ample evidence to support the decisions.

In this case the Lions have been guilty by association. 

The person who attacked the referee has yet to be identified or even located. Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko promised action against the man who attacked the referee but nothing has eventuated on this front so far.

The PNGNRL do not even know whether he was a team official or just one of the many unnecessary fans allowed to loiter on the side of the field at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium on grand final day.

The person was apparently arrested by police after the incident and taken out of the stadium. 

He should have been locked up for the afternoon and his details taken down by the arresting officer to be given to Digicel Cup officials on request.

None of this happened. 

The person was allowed to go and free and there is no record of him ever being put in custody or of his name or what role he played if any for the Chimbu franchise.

Lions franchise owner Gerard Phillip said the man was not part of his team management. Phillip said security and management of the sideline during the final was not what you would expect for a game of this magnitude and at a venue such as the SJGS.

Apparently most of the security personnel were focused on the game itself on not on doing their jobs. 

If they were they would have been alert to the likelihood of an attack and would have cleared out the sidelines of unnecessary people. 

The Simbu Lions, who were the losing grand finalists (they lost 26-18 to the Agmark Gurias), were fined a total of K95,000 for allegedly bringing the game into disrepute.

Their K45,000 runners-up prize money was forfeited and the Lions were told to pay a further K50,000 as a penalty fee.

Additionally, two players, captain Otto Sam and Andrew Sipil, were cited by the referee in his match report for dissent. To be specific the pair was charged for allegedly behaving in a threatening manner towards Rutherford and his linesmen. 

If they are guilty then they should be penalised according to the laws of the game.

The Lions have also been barred from hosting any home games in 2016. 

This was because of the numerous complaints and grumblings by visiting teams over the course of the 2015 season that fans who flock to Dickson Oval in Kundiawa are allowed to intimidate and threaten teams during games. Phillip and the rest of the Lions management seem to be oblivious to this.

It is interesting to note that the Lions were undefeated at home this season and a large part of their success, indeed how they finished second on the ladder and how they made the grand final had much to do with them being “unbeatable” at home.

The Hela Wigmen were the first to raise objection to playing in Kundiawa. Chairman Andy Hetra called for their top eight clash against the Lions to be hosted at a neutral venue because of the aggressive nature of the fans and intimidation meted out to visiting teams.

Hetra’s request was turned down by the PNGNRL and his side subsequently lost to the Lions. 

The minor premiers, the Lae Tigers, then played the preliminary final  at Dickson Oval and lost to the Lions in a match that saw the a 30-minute delay after Tigers players were threatened by Lions players and fans before halftime. 

The Tigers lost the match but were gracious enough to accept defeat. 

Stanley Tepend’s Tigers then went on to win their third place playoff against the Hela Wigmen.

 The problems that have been experienced in the 2015 season are not new. The competition organisers should expect them and be able to address them appropriately but that has not been the case.