It’s been one of the most talked about incidents in rugby league for a long time, but Tony Clubb was given an eight-match ban and fined £500 for an alleged racist remark aimed at Hull FC’s Andre Savelio. How did social media react?
It’s fair to say that most people weren’t best pleased with the end result.
This Tony Clubb situation has been dealt with poorly by both the RFL and Wigan. 8 games and a £500 fine from the RFL and fined 2 weeks wages from Wigan? #RFL
— Liam Edwards (@LiamEdwards115) May 5, 2021
This was the consensus amongst most of the rugby league fraternity with many hoping that the ruling would set an example. Yet, the RFL was attacked for its language in response to the incident.
“Tony Clubb is not a racist, but on this occasion, he used unacceptable language in the heat of the moment”.
This is what's wrong with the world. RFL and Wigan had the perfect opportunity to make a stand and they bottled it. He's not a racist apart from that 1 time. Ridiculous
— Jake Maw (@JakeMaw) May 5, 2021
This was taken one step further by another user who even declared it was “a sad time for rugby league.”
If it's ever evident that there is mass incompetence and a failure to gauge the feeling from the fans (which by the way should be an integral part of their decision making) in the @rfl it's the handling of the racist comment by Tony Clubb. A sad time for rugby league.
— Mark Whittles (@whitts1974) May 5, 2021
Some made comparisons to other lengthy bens, including Bradford’s George Flanagan who was banned for ten matches for “attacking an opponent’s testicles.”
10-match penalty for George Flanagan on attacking an opponent’s testicles.
8-match penalty for Tony Clubb for a racist remark to Andre Savelio.
Huge question marks to the RFL. https://t.co/60lRTVNUVH
— Ben Guzdek (@benguzdek) May 5, 2021
Another Twitter user even brought to light Wigan’s own statement on the matter.
“Adrian Lam, and club captain, Thomas Leuluai, providing full support to the Judge’s findings that Tony Clubb is not a racist.”
Ahh the old, look judge I’ve got mates who aren’t white, I can’t be racist! https://t.co/x7rx12gIs1
— jon winter (@jonb4g) May 5, 2021
Someone else believed that the decision to get statements from his fellow players and coach was always going to be controversial.
How can the judge judging the case on Tony Clubb [Wigan] use Adrian Lam [Wigan head coach] and Tommy Leuluai [Wigan player] as references that determine whether he's a racist?
Obviously the people at the SAME CLUB aren't going to say he's racist…
— Dan (@Dan_RL5) May 5, 2021
The news made the headlines in major newspapers, but one person highlighted the minimalistic extent of rugby league’s profile as a result.
Nothing in the Times or i, 4 pars in the Mail, 5 pars in the Sun, a third of a page in the Daily Sport and two thirds of a page in the Mirror on the Tony Clubb/racism case. A big story, a big issue but kind of shows where rugby league’s national profile is in terms of the UK.
— John Davidson (@johnnyddavidson) May 5, 2021
Some underlined parallels between Clubb’s actions and those of Ben Flower in the 2014 Grand Final when the latter punched Lance Hohaia as he was prone on the floor for the negative effect on the sport.
Wasn’t Ben flower suspended for 6 months?
I personally think the gravity of the incident warrants that.
Alongside the tackle it campaign and some type of educational piece with Tony Clubb would have shown we are serious about ensuring racism doesn’t occur in our sport.
— Nicola jayne Lawson (@NicolajayneLaws) May 5, 2021