The Penrith District Junior Rugby League has handed out suspensions of up to 25 years to players involved in a vicious brawl following a match in the region.
Up to 40 players and spectators were involved in fight following a game between the Penrith Waratahs and Western City Tigers under-19 teams at Turnbull Oval in North Richmond on August 11.
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'I hope it sends a message'
Players involved in the Penrith District Junior Rugby League fight in August have been dealt harsh suspensions. Panthers group chairman Don Feltis hopes the sanctions will act as a deterrent.
Ten players fronted the judiciary and eight have subsequently been charged, with punishments ranging from six-game bans to a 25-year suspension. All of the players sanctioned represent the Western City Tigers side.
The harshest penalty went to a suspended Tigers player, who was charged with 'unauthorised entry onto field, behave contrary, punching and kicking'. The 17-year-old will be prohibited from playing rugby league until 2038. Two other teenagers received 20-year bans.
One of them, Jordan (Fairfax Media has chosen not to reveal his family name), was photographed trying to stomp on the head of an opponent. The year 12 student, who penned a Fairfax Media column speaking of his remorse on the weekend, said he was shocked at the severity of his ban when informed of his fate on Thursday morning.
"I knew I wasn't going to get off easy but I didn't think it was going to be that bad," Jordan said.
"I wonder how much they can put it on one person when [so many others were involved] in the fight.
"I reckon six or seven years would have been alright. Even though my kick didn't connect - I didn't stomp - what they could get me for was punching.
"When my sentence ends, I'll be 38."
Jordan, who was charged with 'Behave contrary, punching and kicking', said he would consider playing rugby union and hoped the suspension wouldn't prevent him from coaching his younger brother's junior league team.
"They shattered me when I found out but there's nothing I can do now," he said.
His grandmother and legal guardian, Deborah Griffin, added: "He could have killed someone and got less."
The moment these idiots invaded the field we had 40 or 50 on there punching each other
Panthers group chairman Don Feltis, who has been involved in junior rugby league for four decades, hoped the heavy sanctions would act as a deterrent.
"You've seen the vision of it. Some of the kicks - and they were wearing football boots - if they hit a bloke on the head they kill him or seriously injure him," Feltis said.
"With the exception of one boy, who showed no remorse, I found them to be decent kids. It's a shame they have ruined their careers with a moment of madness."
The matter isn't over as police are investigating the involvement of spectators who invaded the field. At least one parent is considering taking civil action.
"I have no doubt that if spectators stay off the field, this matter would have been cleared up by the referee and the touch judge and footy managers within minutes," Feltis said.
"The moment these idiots invaded the field we had 40 or 50 on there punching each other."
THE CHARGE SHEET:
Penrith Waratahs #49 – Behave contrary manner and punching – NOT GUILTY.
Western City Tigers #8 - Behave contrary and kicking - NOT GUILTY.
Western City Tigers #6 – Behave contrary and kicking – NOT GUILTY FOR KICKING, but suspended for 6 competition matches for behave contrary.
Western City Tigers #21 – Behave contrary and punching – Suspended for 12 competition matches.
Western City Tigers #4 – Behave contrary, punching and kicking - Suspended for 5 years.
Western City Tigers #1 – Behave contrary and threaten match official - Suspended for 10 years.
Western City Tigers (currently suspended) – Unauthorised entry onto field, behave contrary and punching – Suspended for 12 years.
Western City Tigers #19 – Behave contrary and kicking- Suspended for 20 years.
Western City Tigers #12 –Behave contrary, punching and kicking - Suspended for 20 years.
Western City Tigers (currently suspended) – Unauthorised entry onto field, behave contrary, punching and kicking – Suspended for 25 years.