Common sense prevails over celebration fines and lessons learned from Leeds Rhinos defeat to Hull KR – Luke Gale

I DON’T know if it is a victory for player-power, but there was some good news for the boys at all clubs this week.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 6:35 am
MUTED: Leeds's Luke Briscoe is congratulated with a fist bump by Brad Dwyer on his try against Castleford. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

The RFL had been sending out fines for celebrating during matches, which - it is fair to say - didn’t go down very well.

I wasn’t fined, but quite a few of our squad were, including Alex Mellor who was going to have to cough up £300 over a couple of matches, which he was gutted about.

The fines weren’t for hugging or piling on, but for fist bumps and high-fives, which is ludicrous.

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BAD NIGHT: Kane Linnett is stopped by Leeds Rhinos' James Donaldson and Mikolaj Oledski, but it was a bad night at Hull KR for the visitors. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Anyway, I noticed some players were talking about it on social media over the weekend and we discussed it as a squad on Monday, to see if anything could be done.

Now I’ve heard the RFL have decided to waive fines issued for first bumps, high fives or elbow taps, which is the right thing to do.

They still don’t want players jumping all over each other after a try, but the new restrictions make a lot more sense.

We can go and sit outside cafes together now and we spend 80 minutes playing a contact sport, bashing and getting bashed, so fining somebody for first-bumping was a bit of a joke.

POSITIVE: King Vuniyayawa's performance in the defeat to Hull KR at Craven Park was a rare highlight for the visitors. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

I understand we are still in a pandemic and we have a responsibility to prevent the virus spreading, but when you watch a game - which I’ve been doing for the last few weeks, while I am out injured - there’s no real celebrating going on anyway.

You might get the odd head-rub, but it doesn’t amount to much more than that.

We are all competitive people, we like to win and we are not formulated to act like robots.

You can see the boys at all clubs have been very muted in their celebrations, but you can’t help a bit of something; it’s natural to show a bit of emotion and I’m glad we’re being allowed to do that, even if it’s still very restrained.

Everybody, in all walks of life, has been doing it tough over the last 13 months.

As professional athletes, we are a lot better off than some, but the vast majority of us have done everything we can to keep the sport going during the pandemic, we are putting our heart and soul in and nobody should be punished for that.

Anyway, there wasn’t much to celebrate in last week’s game. The boys are hurting from what happened at Hull KR, but the good thing about rugby league is you get a chance to right the wrongs just a week later.

It wasn’t a great game, we were poor and I thought Hull KR outplayed us.

The two weeks before the Hull KR game, the team showed a lot of spirit, it was commendable and I was really proud of the effort they put in against Saints and Wigan.

But then we dropped off a cliff last weekend and it’s not acceptable.

We will make sure there isn’t a performance like that again.

It was the performance that hurt, a lot more than the result, though that was bad enough.

You can handle getting beaten or a couple of calls going against you, but I don’t think you can handle getting beaten in that manner.

We were beaten to the punch in everything, second-best in all departments, but we will learn from it and move on.

We had a review on Monday and it was pretty tough, the images weren’t great and the boys know that, but they trained hard afterwards and, in these situations, you just have to stick together, keep working hard and know it will change.

We didn’t have many positives, but one was King Vuniyayawa who showed up really well.

He had to play long minutes and he looked strong, he looked a handful and that’s a positive sign for him and us going forward.

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