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Wigan's Tony Clubb banned for eight games but cleared of racism

Wigan's Tony Clubb banned for eight games but cleared of racism
© Reuters
The forward was found guilty of using 'unacceptable language based on national or ethnic origin' towards Hull's Andre Savelio.

Wigan forward Tony Clubb has been given an eight-match ban for using unacceptable language towards an opponent but has been cleared of being a racist.

The former London Broncos and England player was found guilty of using 'unacceptable language based on national or ethnic origin' following a claim by Hull second-rower Andre Savelio that he was called a "stupid Polynesian c***" during the Super League meeting between the sides last Thursday.

Clubb, 33, was suspended by Wigan a day later as they launched a joint investigation with Hull and, after being charged by the RFL's match review panel with a Grade F offence, on Tuesday he appeared in front of an independent operational rules tribunal which found him guilty.

The ban is the minimum normally applied for Grade F offences and was imposed after the tribunal considered mitigating circumstances, including submissions from both players and clubs as well as character references and broadcast footage.

His Honour Judge Guy Kearl QC, who chaired the hearing, said: "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.

"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."

Savelio, who was born in New Zealand and has Samoan heritage, spoke out in the wake of the allegations, saying he would not "sit quietly" and said he had intended to deal with the issue himself during the game but, after Clubb was taken off the field and did not return, he reported it to referee James Child.

Andrew Savelio File Photo
Hull's Andre Savelio brought the allegation against Tony Clubb (Mike Egerton/PA)

"I'm just hopeful a camera or microphone clocked it and it's dealt with," he said. "I've seen these things happen enough to know most of the time there's never enough proof on these – but I swear it on my mum's..."

The suspension starts on Saturday, when Wigan and Hull meet again, this time in the Challenge Cup, and Clubb will be free to play again in July but he could be facing an uncertain future.

He turns 34 in June and is out of contract at the end of the season.

Clubb has made 157 appearances for the Warriors since joining them from the Broncos in 2014 and was in their Grand Final-winning team of 2018.

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Wigan's Tony Clubb charged with using racist language by RFL

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Monday's key events

· There are no Brits in the women's 100m hurdles final, but Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, fresh from breaking the Olympic record in the semis, will hope to pip world record holder Kendra Harrison to gold (3.50am)
· The women's 5000m final also has no Team GB representation, but two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be looking to add an Olympic gold to her list of honours (1.40pm)

· The women's skiff 49er FX (6.33am) and men's skiff 49er (7.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races

· A place in the women's gold medal match is up for grabs, starting with an all-North American semi-final between United States and Canada (9am)
· Australia, who edged past Team GB's in a seven-goal quarter-final thriller, take on Sweden in the second semi-final (12pm)

· The track cycling schedule gets underway, with Team GB holding a particular interest in the team pursuit qualifying. Laura Kenny is part of the women's team (7.54am), while the men's team includes Ed Clancy (9.02am)

· The Gadirova twins Jessica and Jennifer will both take part in the women's floor final as they look to add to their team bronze (9.57am)

· Newly-crowned European champion Emily Campbell flies the flag for Great Britain in the women's +87kg, but faces stiff competition for medals from China's Li Wenwen and New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard (11.50am)

· The women's hockey quarter-finals begin, with Team GB last up against Spain (1pm)

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