Hull FC boss Brett Hodgson disappointed by 'lenient' Tony Clubb ban

Andre Savelio speaks to referee James Child after reporting the incident
Andre Savelio (centre) flagged the comment up to referee James Child during Hull's defeat by Wigan

Hull FC head coach Brett Hodgson feels an opportunity was missed to "send a clear message" on racism after Wigan prop Tony Clubb received a "lenient" eight-game ban for a racist remark.

Clubb was found guilty of making the comment to Hull back-rower Andre Savelio, relating to his Polynesian heritage, by an independent tribunal.

The eight-game ban is the minimum penalty for a Grade F law breach.

"It is never OK for racism to be in society or sport," Hodgson said.

"The eight-week suspension is, in my opinion, too lenient.

"The fact is there was an opportunity to send a clear message and I want to stress this is my opinion.

"I feel strongly that the way Andre has held himself, he's held himself really well at this tough time."

Clubb "brought the game into disrepute"

Tony Clubb has been suspended by Wigan
Tony Clubb was also fined £500 in addition to an eight-game ban imposed by the tribunal panel

The tribunal panel found Clubb guilty of using "unacceptable language based on national or ethnic origin".

"This was serious misconduct," said Guy Kearl QC, who chaired the tribunal.

"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."

Clubb, who was suspended by Wigan on Friday after they started their own investigation, was also fined £500.

In handing down the decision on Tuesday, Kearl said Clubb "brought the game into disrepute" but added that the tribunal "do not find that he is a racist" after taking into account character references presented by his club.

The initial charge issued by the Rugby Football League was given the most severe grading, although it is then down to the tribunal panel to process the findings and issue the penalty.

In terms of timing, the incident occurred as clubs were preparing to begin a four-day social media blackout, to highlight the issue of racism within sport across several codes including rugby league.

The sport also introduced for 2021 a 13-second moment for players before kick-off to make their own statement against discrimination and racism as part of the 'Tackle It' campaign, a follow on from the 'taking of the knee' gesture which was adopted by football and rugby league in 2020.

"We all do a 13-second protest against racism and discrimination at the start of each game, and for me I thought it was the minimum of what needed to be happening," Hodgson added.

"But we will accept the terms of the judicial system and move on from here."

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