Rugby league fans and commentators have been left stunned after former NRL prop Paul Vaughan was slapped with the heaviest of penalties for an innocuous incident – while a teammate was barely punished for a high tackle.
Vaughan, who courted controversy during his time in Australia by hosting a barbecue for St George Illawarra teammates during the COVID pandemic, is in hot water again.
However, this time the punishment does not fit the crime.
The former New South Wales Blues representative faces up to six weeks on the sideline for tugging on the shirt of an opposition player.
Playing for Warrington Wolves in the English Super League competition, Vaughan was seen trying to pull St Helens player Sione Mata’utia to his feet following a tackle on Saturday.
The incident has been referred straight to the judiciary as a Grade E charge, which means Vaughan could be rubbed out for four to six weeks – potentially ending the 32-year-old’s season.
NRL commentator Andrew Voss could not believe the severity of the possible penalty, posting: ‘This charge is a gee up..surely!’
Vaughan played for the Dragons and Bulldogs (pictured) in the NRL before moving to the Warrington Wolves in the English Super League
Footy fans have been left stunned by the fact Vaughan could cop a six-week suspension for pulling on an opponent’s jersey (pictured)
The decision left plenty of footy fans puzzled as well.
‘Am I missing something?’ one asked.
‘Genuinely confused what the charge is supposed to be for,’ posted another.
Others pointed out the rule had been put in place to protect injured players, especially those who had potential spinal damage.
‘Do not touch a player on the floor. Just don’t. What if he has a neck or spine injury, just don’t do it. They’ve been consistent with this for a couple of years now, so it’s not a shock,’ a fan posted.
However, making the grading even more puzzling was the fact Warrington teammate Thomas Mikaele escaped with a slap on the wrist for a dangerous high tackle.
He was only fined $500 and will be eligible for selection this week against the Huddersfield Giants.
Josh McGuire was suspended for a total of 19 matches in a single season for using a slur against the same opposition on two occasions
Corey Norman (pictured in white) copped a massive ban for sticking his fingers up the backsides of opposition players
The English Super League has a history of handing out long penalties.
Former NRL enforcer Josh McGuire copped a seven-week ban for using a disgusting slur against an opposition player during a trial match this year.
He was also fined $1750 and required to undertake mandatory education.
However that education did not work, because McGuire was then handed a 12-week ban in June for the same offence against the same opposition.
Toulouse five-eighth and former Brisbane and Parramatta star Corey Norman also received an eight-match ban in 2022 for sticking his fingers up the backsides of opposition players.