FURIOUS HULL KR chairman Neil Hudgell has hit out at the RFL and Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell.
Hudgell branded the RFL’s disciplinary process “not fit for purpose” after Rovers failed to overturn a four match ban imposed on hooker John Boudebza.
The French forward was found guilty of a Grade B dangerous tackle on Michael Shenton during last Sunday’s 16-16 draw at Craven Park.
That normally leads to a ban of up to two games, but Tuesday’s disciplinary panel increased the punishment after hearing the Tigers captain had suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury which could end his season.
Hudgell responded angrily in a club statement after Rovers’ appeal was rejected.
He said: “Yet again the RFL disciplinary process has shown itself not fit for purpose.
“In inadvertently reaffirming the same four match penalty before taking submissions, it can be reasonably assumed that the decision of the appeal panel had been pre-judged to support the initial flawed findings, even though this was meant to be a rehearing of the matter from new. I invite anyone to review the tackle and tell me it doesn’t happen 20 times in every game.
“In this instance a serious injury occurred and I have every sympathy with the player but you cannot ban a player for inflicting an injury caused by the type of tackle effected literally hundreds of times over a season.
“It is appalling that the RFL official ‘prosecuting’ was allowed to introduce inadmissible evidence. He chairs the match review panel and has never played the game. None of the serving members involved in this process have coached in many years, if at all, so have no experience of modern tackling techniques.
“In finding the tackle was ‘careless’ it defies logic that the panel then stepped outside the normal range of penalties for the grade of offence.”
Hudgell added: “It is equally appalling that the Castleford head coach can make post-match comments intended to inflame and prejudice this matter, something in relation to which we ought to complain, but expect it to fall on deaf ears.
“It is a sorry situation when a senior figure in one club goes out of their way to publicly influence the suspension of a player at a rival club. Our fans have talked about boycotting the return fixture in protest, and I have every sympathy with their frustrations.
“I feel desperately sorry for the player, who is distraught, to now be labelled the sort of player who inflicts serious injury on another.
“The match review panel and judiciary have set themselves a very high bar here in maintaining a consistency throughout the season, one I’m prepared to wager they don’t have the necessary skill set of seeing through beyond round three.”
Rovers’ head of rugby Jamie Peacock represented Boudebza at the appeal.
He said: “Whilst we have no option but to accept the RFL’s decision, we would like to place on record our support for John and our belief that there was no malice intended in this tackle.
“Teaching or encouraging players to use a dangerous tackle technique is not something we do or condone at this club and not something that we want to be part of our DNA.
“The tackle was awkward rather than dangerous or reckless and we strongly defend any allegations of intent on John’s part.
“It is our belief that tackles of this nature are part and parcel of playing such a tough sport, but we do of course fully sympathise with Michael Shenton and the Castleford Tigers. Nobody involved in rugby league wishes injury on another player and we hope Michael makes the speediest recovery possible.
“I personally understand just what he is going through as I suffered a career-threatening ACL injury with complications myself a few years ago in an awkward tackle and while I was very disappointed to be injured, I understood that due to the physicality of Rugby League these injuries can occur.”
Powell blasted the incident which led to Shenton’s injury in his post-match press conference, saying: “That was a bad tackle and it has got to be out of the game.”