RFL's Morgan Knowles decision sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the Super League

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The Super League Grand Final will take place this weekend, as St Helens aim to become the first side in the history of the competition to win the title for a fourth consecutive year.

They will take on the Leeds Rhinos, a side who, prior to the arrival of Rohan Smith, looked more likely to be playing Championship rugby next season as opposed to contesting yet another Grand Final.

There is a rich history between the two clubs, one which should be the focal point of the build-up to what promises to be an incredible contest. Unfortunately, that is not the case.


All eyes are on the decision to overturn a two-match ban handed to Morgan Knowles for his challenge on Chris Atkin in last Saturday's semi-final win against the Salford Red Devils.

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It's a decision that sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the Super League moving forward.

Muppets running the show

Now you'd be forgiven for thinking that those were the words of a disgruntled Leeds Rhinos fan, or an appalled Chris Atkin, who was the recipient of Knowles' illegal challenge on Saturday afternoon.

However it is neither of those people who made such a statement, instead, it is former Super League and International Rugby League referee Richard Silverwood who made the comments on social media following the news on Wednesday night.

Silverwood is one of the game's most decorated officials, having officiated over 400 games in the Super League, as well as 18 matches on the international stage. If anyone is well positioned to have a say on the state of refereeing in this country right now, then Silverwood is your man.

Unless you'll be donning the Red Vee on Saturday evening, I would think that there would be few who would disagree with the 46-year-old.


A lack of consistency

Nobody can expect a referee to get every single decision right, they are all human at the end of the day. But that is why the Match Review Panel exists.

The job of the Match Review Panel is to hand out sanctions to players that have escaped sufficient punishment during their time on the pitch. Morgan Knowles was handed a yellow card for his offence at the time and went on to receive a two-match ban as a result.

Despite failing in his initial appeal to have the ban overturned, Knowles was successful in a follow-up appeal, meaning he is free to play in the Grand Final on Saturday evening.

Lining up opposite the St Helens' favourite is Rhys Martin, who returns to the fold for the Rhinos having sat out Leeds' last two games after seeing his one-match ban (which was harsh in the first place), doubled after the Review Panel deemed his appeal "frivolous".

The lack of consistency is becoming more apparent with every passing week, and in a home World Cup year that really ought to bring more eyes to the sport, it's these inconsistencies that are forcing fans away.


A dangerous precedent

The decision to overturn Knowles' ban sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the competition moving forward.

It is understood that St Helens' reason for the appeal was that they claimed that Knowles had made the professional foul in an attempt to slow the play down, not in an attempt to injure the player in question.

Now whilst it wasn't the worst challenge that the sport has ever seen, Knowles intentionally twisted the arm of Atkins behind his back and whilst it didn't result in serious injury to the Salford Red Devils' half-back, it quite easily could have.


The precedent set by the successful appeal is that as long as you don't injure your opponent, then there is no harm in the "chicken wing" challenge that Knowles committed.

So where do we draw the line? Is it going to take a serious injury for those reviewing the appeals to realise that these types of tackles really ought to be punished? You'd certainly hope not.

We all want to see the best players in the competition competing at Old Trafford, but this isn't the correct way to go about it.