If you’re calling for Ben Flower to be banned for life, you’re an idiot.
If you’re calling for Ben Flower to be banned for a season, you’re an idiot.
If you’re calling Greater Manchester Police to ask for criminal charges to be brought against Ben Flower, you’re an idiot.
This doesn’t make me an apologist for Ben Flower. His second punch is something I never thought I’d see on a rugby field and something I never want to see again. Punches like that are one of the reasons I don’t like watching UFC – when someone is done, they’re done.
But ban him for life? Get real.
You show me a Super League who wouldn’t have turned round and chinned Lance Hohaia for his cheap shot and I’ll show you a liar. This isn’t the NRL, we don’t have an immediate red card for punching in Super League and in the super charged atmosphere of a derby, most players would’ve reacted.
Anyone calling for a ridiculous ban for punch one – and there are people calling for eight matches plus – need to take a step back. Flower’s main crime is being good at punching; he didn’t miss. If you want an eight match ban for that first punch, let’s watch the video again and list who else should be banned:
- Paul Wellens
- Mose Masoe
- Joe Burgess
- Tommy Makinson
Let’s Talk About Mose Masoe
Masoe ran a good 15 to 20m to get involved in the shemozzle that started after Flower’s punch. He threw a shot that, if it had connected, would probably have taken the Welshman’s head clean off his shoulders. Luckily for him, Liam Farrell inadvertently gets in the way and deflects the shot, otherwise you would’ve had to phone the police twice to complain about another punch.
I’ll be honest, I have no problem with anything that happened other than the second punch from the Ben Flower. Hohaia looks to have been pushed by Flower as he’s chasing for the ball – so what. Hohaia cheap shots Flower with a forearm/come elbow to let him know he’s in a game – no biggie, this is the final. Flower turns round and reacts with a decent punch which he didn’t miss – tough luck Lance, don’t pick on the big lads next time. Wellens, Masoe and everyman and his dog joins in – that’s fine.
I understand the argument that this isn’t a great advert for kids watching the game, but rugby league is a physical collision sport where teams will actively look for any signs of weakness. Show one, and you’re in for a long evening. You’ll always get blow ups and it spilling over.
I’ll offer no defence for Ben Flower. Everyone I know who was brought up playing rugby (either code) has found it a grim affair. I’ve watched the clip almost 100 times now (seriously) and it doesn’t get any better.
Before setting up the gallows for Ben Flower, I’d suggest just watching the clip in full speed. The slow motion replay makes it look like the second punch was a premeditated attack. Slowing it down frame by frame makes everything look even worse – and let’s be honest, it doesn’t need to look any worse than it already is!
At full speed, it’s a two punch combo, not a punch followed by a bit of thinking time and then attacking a defenceless man.
That doesn’t forgive it – he should know better. A rush of blood to the head doesn’t forgive it either – there’s been bigger thugs and hotter tempers playing rugby than Ben Flower who never, ever stooped so low.
The RFL have announced Flower will be charged with a Grade F offence, which carries eight matches. Fine. He can get more. Fine, within reason. I could handle an eight match ban for the second punch and a separate ban for striking for punch one – 12 matches in total perhaps.
What about criminal charges? The argument goes that if he did that in a pub on a Saturday night then he would’ve been arrested and be facing jail. If you like this argument and have been using it at the water cooler over the last few days, here’s a test for you. How many other incidents do you see on Saturday night that, in a pub, would be criminal offences? Every tackle could possibly be an offence. Charging at someone and knocking them flat would be.
In case you didn’t notice, Flower wasn’t in a pub on Saturday. Hopefully common sense will prevail and the police will close whatever file they’ve opened once the hysteria settles down.
What Flower did was grim. It was horrible. It has no place in our game. But I’m not convinced it was something that gets him a lifetime ban. Let the RFL chuck the book at him, let Wigan fine him and then let the dust settle.
Once it settles, you might even find me saying something nice about Saints and Nathan Brown. “The worst team ever to finish top of the Super League” and “the most over rated coach in the game” is how I’ve described them recently. Well, they’ve just won the Grand Final with no half backs. Well played lads, well played.