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Men’s rugby league Eight-game ban for racism is soft, says Hull coach Brett Hodgson

HULL coach Brett Hodgson says the eight-match ban imposed on Wigan prop Tony Clubb was too lenient.

An independent operational rules tribunal organised by the Rugby Football League found Clubb guilty on Tuesday evening of abusing Hull second rower Andre Savelio during last Thursday’s Super League match.

Clubb faced a charge of using “unacceptable language based on national or ethnic origin,” a Grade F offence for which the minimum suspension is eight matches.

After receiving character references in support of the player, the panel opted to reduce the penalty after deciding that he is not a racist and that he used the unacceptable language in the heat of the moment.

Speaking at his weekly press conference, Hodgson said: “My own personal opinion is that it was too lenient, in the current circumstances with everything that’s going on.”

Hodgson praised the actions of Savelio, who brought the matter to the attention of referee James Child during the game and stood by his allegations on social media, revealing Clubb called him a “stupid Polynesian c***.”

“There’s never a right time for racism in sport or in life in general. The fact that Andre stood up for himself, his culture, his ethnicity, I’m really proud of his actions from start to finish,” he said.

“He’s a big part of our club, he’s a big personality and he’s very well liked. We’ve been very supportive of him and will continue to be so.”

Hodgson confirmed that Savelio will maintain his ever-present record this season when the clubs meet again on Saturday in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.

“I believe he’s mentally tough enough,” said Hodgson. “We have reached out and made sure that he’s OK.

“He’s assured me that he’s good to go and I trust him. I trust that he will do the work required to make sure that he’s ready to go, both mentally and physically.

“The players have also got around Andre exceptionally well. He knows that we’re supporting him and will continue to do so.

“I’m expecting a solid performance from Andre.”

Meanwhile, Wigan coach Adrian Lam is confident the furore caused by the racism allegation will have no impact on his team’s preparation for the rematch with Hull.

After completing their own investigation, Wigan say they have fined the player two weeks’ wages but have lifted their own suspension, enabling him to resume training while serving the ban, and Lam says there will be no lingering effect on his team.

“Not at all,” he said. “In the early days, as you would expect, there was a lot of chat around the group but we’ve moved on quickly from that and preparation at training has been solid.

“It’s obviously a sensitive subject at the moment but we’ve addressed it as a club and we’ve moved on.

“We need to make sure we stay focused in this moment which is our biggest game and our biggest week of the year.”

The incident came as rugby league joined in with other sports in a boycott of social media to step up the fight against discrimination and Wigan say they pride themselves on the game’s core values of inclusion and respect.

Wigan say character references were provided by Lam and club captain Thomas Leuluai in support of the player and note that he has expressed remorse for the comments he made.

“Nevertheless, the club finds unequivocally that the language used by Tony on this occasion is unacceptable and that abuse with reference to a person’s ethnicity has no place on a rugby pitch or in society,” the statement added.

“As a result, the club’s disciplinary process has found that a further sanction to that issued by the tribunal is appropriate and warranted.

“The Wigan club confirm, therefore, that Tony will be fined a further two weeks’ wages which will be put towards a dedicated education and diversity training programme through the club’s education and community departments specifically targeted against abuse based on ethnicity.

“Following the outcome of this disciplinary process, it is confirmed that Tony Clubb’s suspension has been lifted and he will return to training with the first team whilst serving his eight-match ban from playing.”


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