Referee kill threat rocks Group 2
GROUP 2 Rugby League's judiciary has substantially raised one of its penalties after an incident in a match at Port Macquarie on August 1.
In future any player found guilty of a category 4 charge of threatening to "kill a referee whilst on the field of play" will now be eligible for a 20 year suspension from all activities involving rugby league.
He will also be the subject of a formal complaint to police.
The change comes after the judiciary dealt with a case involving Sharks reserve grader Robert Inglis who was dismissed by referee James Maggio and charged with two offences.
The player pleaded guilty to a charge of making an insulting gesture towards the crowd (commonly called a 'one-finger salute') and a further charge of threatening physical injury to a referee.
In evidence, the referee claimed the player threatened to "cut his throat" but when considering a penalty, the judiciary panel was shocked to find the heaviest sentence they could deliver was a six week suspension.
Under the rules governing early pleas and discounts on prior good behaviour, Mr Inglis has been suspended until August 20 pending no forfeited and washed out matches and his team plays in the finals series.
But that isn't the only fall-out from the visit by Sawtell to Hastings Regional Stadium on the first day of this month.
First grade hooker James Kelly has been cited by the Panthers who allege he caused serious physical injury to a player as a result of striking.
The match ended in uproar with coach Anthony Fenton and football manager Les Murphy summoned to appear before the management committee.
Mr Murphy is a member of that committee.
He has been charged with verbal abuse of match officials and/or acting in a manner contrary to the spirit of rugby league.
Mr Fenton has resigned his post and handed duties to co-coach Trent McKeough who will take charge from today at the Bellingen fixture.
However, Group 2 president Greg Mayhew said the charges of verbal abuse of the referee in the player's tunnel following the match, use of foul language and threats of physical violence toward the referee, remain current.
He said his executive is determined not to allow the last few weeks of the Port Macquarie club's participation in the league to end acrimoniously.
At the end of the year the Sharks will end a successful 18-season run in Group 2 and transfer to the neighbouring Group 3 competition.
"I have spoken to Robert Lowrie of Country Rugby League and he is adamant that Mr Murphy and Mr Fenton are suspended from all activities involving rugby league until they appear before the committee to explain what took place last Sunday," Mayhew said.
"Les and Anthony are both highly-respected men in this competition and are entitled to be heard.
"However, I must point out that relations with the Port club are very harmonious and they have cooperated in every way.
"Our discussions with club president Steve Manton have been amicable and I'm determined that continues."