Hull KR frustrated by Boudebza decision

Hull Kingston Rovers have expressed their frustration following the ruling over suspended hooker John Boudebza at his appeal hearing. 

The 25 year-old was handed a four match ban for his tackle on Michael Shenton in the game against Castleford Tigers on Sunday, a tackle which rules the Tigers captain out for the entire 2016 season.

Rovers had appealed the decision handed to their French hooker, with the hearing taking place on Wednesday, but the appeal was rejected with Boudebza having to sit out the next four games. 

Hull KR‘s Football Manager Jamie Peacock has expressed the club’s support for Boudebza, and that the tackle in question was not conducted in an illegal manner. 

“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,” Peacock said. 

“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.”

Hull Kingston Rovers chairman Neil Hudgell was left frustrated at the systems in place at the RFL, and believes the extent of Shenton’s injury has impacted on the length of time that Boudebza has been suspended. 

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

“In inadvertently reaffirming the same four match penalty before taking submissions, it can be reasonable 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.”

Hudgell continued to express his disbelief that the people involved in the decision making are those that have not been involved with the sport for years, before making reference to post-match comments by Castleford Tigers that have hindered Boudebza’s appeal.

“It is appalling that the RFL official ‘prosecuting’ was allowed to introduce inadmissible evidence,” he said.

“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.”

The Rovers chairman has also told of his sympathy for John Boudebza who now may be left with a reputation following this incident, and says the RFL could have potentially opened a can of worms in the ruling for this incident. 

“It is a sorry situation when a senior figure in one club goes out their way to publicly influence the suspension of a player at a rival club,” he said.

“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.

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