Graham’s suspension must be served within ARLC jurisdiction
First things first, this article assumes from the wealth of evidence that the general public has seen that James Graham is guilty.
Why he has pleaded not guilty is something only he and his lawyer will know. His arguments tonight will provide comedic reading tomorrow.
Various media outlets are speculating that Graham will be suspended half a season for his actions. Personally I think 10 weeks will be the punishment handed out, and will still send an strong message that biting has no place in the game.
However, whatever suspension the tribunal give, it must be served entirely in the jurisdiction of the Australian Rugby League Commission, Graham cannot be given the convenience of international rugby league to shorten his suspension served in the NRL.
Lets speculate that Graham gets a 10 week suspension. As it stands, Graham will have at least four weeks eliminated through international and pre-season matches, and could realistically only miss at most the first six weeks of the 2013 season.
Any suspension less than 10 weeks will continue to reduce his actual 2013 season suspension. Graham will be getting off a little easier than what he deserves.
Unfortunately the next step from here is murky. I don’t think it is fair that suspension for an act committed within the sphere of the ARLC can be served in games outside of it.
However, nor do I think it fair a man who has committed such an atrocity on the football field be allowed to play.
The lesser of two evils needs to be picked, and in my opinion, the lesser evil is the latter option.
Allowing Graham to play for England this October is the most appropriate solution.
Quite simply, the Rugby Football League is outside the jurisdiction of the ARLC and so long as the RFL does not play a team within the ARLC, then a player such as Graham should be allowed to play.
If England was to play Australia, then there would be a clear conflict as the game would be under the joint jurisdiction of the RFL and ARLC, and of course he should be suspended.
If he was allowed to play for England in October, why should we care? Its between England, France and Wales, it has no bearing upon any Australian based competition, and it has the added bonus of ensuring Graham will be sitting out more of the 2013 season than the current set up would have allowed.
While many would think it to be unfair Graham could be allowed to play for England (and yes, I can see why people would think that), I think it would be more unfair for him to offload some of his suspension in non-ARLC matches. In an unfair world where people always seek technicalities, this is the fairest of them all.
Besides, there was no guarantee Graham was going to be picked for England before the biting took place.
The same would go for any Australian player based in England. If they were picked to represent the Kangaroos against NZ in the Anzac test, but were suspended from playing in the Super League, then they should still be allowed to play.
The ARLC cannot allow players to use the fact that they are also in international teams to skip parts of their suspension. It is unfair for players who do not represent their country in international football and have to serve their entire suspension in the ARLC.
While allowing Graham to play for England may not be morally the most palatable of choices, it is the fairest choice of the options at hand.