Abertridwr’s Ben Flower given six month ban for Super League Grand Final attack
News, Sport | | Published: 10:18, Thursday October 16th, 2014.
Last updated: 10:18, Thursday October 16th, 2014
A Caerphilly-born player has been banned for six months for a double punch on St Helens’ Lance Hohaia -the longest ban ever dished out by the Rugby Football League.
Wigan prop Ben Flower, 26, from Abertridwr, was the first man ever to be red carded in the Super League Grand Final.
He knocked Hohaia to the floor with one punch then hit the player while he was on the floor.
The incident happened in just the second minute of Britain’s biggest rugby league match, on October 11, when Flowers reacted to an off-the-ball forearm smash by Hohaia.
Hohai did not return to the pitch in the final and was banned for one game. Flower’s ban amounts to 13 games.
After Flower, who went to St Cenydd School, was sent off, Wigan fought well but lost the final 14-6 at Old Trafford.
Flower has previously played rugby union for Bedwas and represented Wales at Under 20 level. He began his Rugby League career at the Celtic Crusaders.
The nine-times capped player made a complete apology for his actions that led to the sending off and his head coach Shaun Wane did not defend him saying he “made a huge error”.
Flower said: “I am so sorry for what happened last night. There is no defence for my actions. It was something that happened in the heat of the moment when our emotions and adrenaline was running high.
“I instantly regretted it and am devastated that I allowed myself to punch someone like this.
“At Wigan we are known for being aggressive but we are constantly told to do this within the rules of the game and that punching isn’t tough. We may aim to dominate teams, but we don’t aim to hurt people.
“I firstly offer my apologies to Lance. I have full respect for him and have never gone onto a rugby field to injure a fellow player. I hope he is ok.
“I’d also like to say sorry to my teammates, our fans and the Wigan Club. I know I’ve let them down like never before and accept I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my career.
“Finally, I’m sorry to the sport of Rugby League.
“It was a big night and I know I’ve taken the attention away from what was a special event.”
The incident caused mixed reaction on the Abertridwr Facebook page, with many users coming to his defence.
Matthew Wood wrote: “Ben attacked him after the other player ran 20 yards to put an elbow into his face at full pace. Rugby is a passionate sport and 95% of players would’ve reacted the same.
“The second punch was naughty but you can see he pulls out of it a bit and it doesn’t make full contact.”