Ben Flower Charged With Grade F Offence After Punching Lance Hohaia In Grand Final
Wigan forward Ben Flower has been given a Grade F offence after “landing a right hook” on St. Helens half-back Lance Hohaia, before striking him again on the ground in one of the worst acts of violence in rugby’s history (which is saying quite a lot). Hohaia also received a Grade B offence for the initial strike with a raised elbow. This is turn kicked off a mass brawl between the two teams, as can be seen in the above video.
Those punches (particularly, the second, most-telling of the two) made Flower the first player to be hit with a red card in a Super League Grand Final, sending him off the field at Old Trafford after only a couple of minutes.
Following the confirmation of offences from the RFL — and likely to be following by an extensive ban from the league, if not legal/criminal action from the police — Flower did express remorse for what he did:
I am so sorry for what happened…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 okay.
I’d also like to say sorry to my team-mates, 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.