Hudgell says disciplinary process “not fit for purpose”

Hull Kingston Rovers chairman Neil Hudgell has launched a scathing attack on the RFL’s disciplinary panel after the club’s appeal against John Boudebza’s four-match ban was rejected.

The French international was hit with the ban – double the 1-2 matches the recommended Grade B sanction with which he was initially hit with suggests – and Hudgell has insisted that the process is “not fit for purpose”.

“Yet again the RFL disciplinary process has shown itself not fit for purpose,” he said in a statement.

“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 affected literally hundreds of times over a season.”

Hudgell also insisted that in deeming Boudebza’s tackle on Castleford captain Michael Shenton ‘careless’ – it defies logic.

“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. 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.”

Hudgell concludes that he is hoping to see consistency from now on with such charges and tackles – but says he’d be happy to bet that it doesn’t last.

“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.”