Today Canberra Raiders fullback Jack Wighton was charged by the National Rugby League Match Review Committee with a grade two shoulder charge from their huge win over Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Wighton’s “moment of madness” came ten minutes before the full-time siren when he attempted to put a shot on Joel Edwards.
Tweeting the game for NothingButLeague yesterday, I agreed with the Fox Sports commentary team in saying that he had no case to answer.
So it was a surprise to see Wighton charged and facing a season ending suspension given that the Raiders could make it to all the way to the Grand Final.
No one is doubting that Wighton put himself into a position to shoulder charge. The point is whether the Match Review Committee have been consistent in their approach.
At this stage Canberra Raiders have not made a decision on whether they will contest the charge.
UPDATE: Raiders will contest charge. Read here
Once upon a time the National Rugby League made it a mandate to automatically suspend anyone who performed a shoulder charge.
More recently the Match Review Committee have either decided to relax or take complete disregard for an automatic suspension.
Raiders fans will point fair and squarely at Michael Ennis who ironically escapes punishment and will be free to play against them this weekend at GIO Stadium.
Let’s remember that Ennis not only dropped the shoulder into Melbourne Storm’s Blake Green fractionally late but enough for him to receive attention after the contact. Surely this was worthy of a charge.
Michael Buettner can point out all the differences between Wighton’s and Ennis’ tackle but the fact remains is that both were shoulder charges.
On a weekend of high drama James Graham also escaped punishment for striking out (and missing) Sam Burgess however the Rabbitoh was charged with a trip.
The drama of the inconsistency in charges will only heat up during the finals series.
Cam Smith is living proof that you can miss a Grand Final (2008) when others have performed similar foul play a week out from the big game and escaped suspension.
Our game is never without it’s drama and sometimes the game is it’s worse enemy.
Canberra Raiders can only now use this as positive energy to win the title for jackie boii.