On the very day soccer gained the funding, media
coverage and the emotion needed to seriously challenge other football codes, a
rugby league judiciary on the other side of the world dealt a sad and
inexcusable blow to the creditability of rugby league.

Soccer is going to seriously challenge rugby league, Aussie rules
and rugby union in schools and among the youth of the nation. In this
environment, the last thing any rival code needs is for its
administrators to be pathetically weak when dealing with on-field
offences that are sickening in the extreme – especially at the
international level.

In the tri-nations match between the Kiwis and
Great Britain last Sunday
morning a sickening tackle on Great Britain half back Paul Deacon
by the Kiwis Nigel Vagana put Deacon in hospital for four days, suffering a
broken nose, a fractured eye socket and other facial injuries. It is alleged that the initial injury could have been
life threatening because blood had flooded to Deacon’s lungs, causing serious
breathing difficulties.

One of rugby league’s shonky “international judiciaries”
was convened to hear the charge against Vagana. Vagana would have known the
process, because he appeared before an “international judiciary” for an alleged
spear tackle in the opening Tri-Nations match in Sydney.

And what was the penalty handed out by the “independent”
(ARL Chairman Colin Love’s word, not mine) judiciary? He has been suspended for ONE match, and the suspension
will be served by missing the irrelevant “test match’ against France
this weekend.

That means he will be eligible for the Tri-Nations final
on Sunday week if the Kiwis make it. In reality he has been given no penalty at
all. Deacon won’t play again until February. Vagana will play
in 9 days time.

This case highlights the double standards when it comes
to judiciaries. The NRL judiciary would surely have handed out a suspension of
between six and ten weeks, based on precedents this season. But when it comes to State of Origin and Test Matches
the judiciaries are a patsy. And they send the wrong signals to
parents worried about their sons being injured, or even maimed, if they play
body contact sport like rugby league.

As the Daily Telegraph put it today, under the headline
“League’s shameful injustice,” the outcome has savaged the credibility of
international rugby league. And the game’s administrators probably won’t even know,
let alone care, about the damage that has been done. They will be much too busy booking their limousines to
make sure they get to Sunday’s do-or-die match between the Kangaroos and Great
Britain and quaffing the finest wines and the best food – all at the game’s expense.

I
know little about soccer, and don’t follow the game on
a regular basis, but if Frank Lowy and John O’Neill shake rugby league
administrators, and those of other codes, out of their pathetic lethargy when it
comes to crushing on-field foul play and downright thuggery by being serious
competitors for public support and sponsor’s dollars, then I wish them every
success.

And if Sunday’s vital game between the Kangaroos and
Great Britain
sees any repeat of last weekend’s
violent incident, then the administrators who have condoned violence and
thuggery in the international game will be to blame.