Wigan Warriors' Tony Clubb suspended for eight games over abuse but Hull FC duo lose bans appeal

The Rugby Football League's disciplinary committee has suspended Wigan Warriors forward Tony Clubb for eight games after he aimed abuse at Hull's Andre Savelio during a Super league game last week.

Tony Clubb. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

And Hull players Jake Connor and Brad Fash have failed in their attempts to get one-match bans overturned, ruling them out of Saturday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final rematch with Wigan at Leeds’ Headingley Stadium.

Clubb was charged by the sport’s match review panel with grade F “unacceptable language/abuse based on national or ethnic origin”.

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While a disciplinary tribunal yesterday found him guilty of the offence, they accepted Clubb is not a racist and imposed the minimum punishment for a grade F charge, which is the most serious category.

Hull's Andre Savelio, second from left, makes a complaint to referee James Child and captains Sam Powell, of Wigan and Danny Houghton during last week's game. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

The incident, in the 15th minute of last Thursday’s game which Wigan won 16-14, was placed on report by referee James Child following a complaint from Savelio.

Clubb, a 33-year-old former London Broncos and England prop, was found guilty after the tribunal, chaired by Judge Guy Kearl QC considered submissions from both players and clubs, the match official’s report, broadcast footage and character references.

In his judgement, Kearl noted: “We have considered the evidence of both players and the circumstances surrounding the allegation and find that we are reasonably satisfied, taking into account the seriousness of the charge, that the words were said, albeit in the heat of the moment, but nevertheless were said.

“They do constitute unacceptable language based on [a player’s] racial and ethnic origin and therefore we find that this was serious misconduct which has brought the game into disrepute.”

But he added: “On the other hand we have considered the character references placed before us by Wigan Warriors from those who know [Tony Clubb] well at the club.

“We do not find that he is a racist, simply that on this occasion he used unacceptable language in the heat of the moment.

“We have therefore reduced the penalty to take account of his character and good disciplinary record to a suspension for eight matches and a £500 fine.”

Clubb was suspended by Wigan from all club activities following last week’s game, which came the day before Super League clubs joined in a social media boycott aimed at tackling online abuse.

Yesterday’s operational rules tribunal also upheld the one-match bans imposed by the match review panel on Connor and Fash, following separate incidents in last week’s game.

Hull launched appeals in a bid to have the players cleared for the Cup tie, but the tribunal found the B grading in both cases - for a high tackle by Connor and dangerous contact from Fash - to be correct.

The appeals were a gamble by Hull who risked the punishment being increased had the tribunal ruled either challenge to be frivolous.

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