Newcastle Thunder release statement following suspension handed to Alex Foster

·2-min read
Newcastle Thunder Credit: PA Images
Newcastle Thunder Credit: PA Images

Newcastle Thunder has expressed their disappointment in the punishment handed to back-rower Alex Foster during the club’s clash against Bradford.

Foster, 28, will miss the rest of the 2022 Championship season after being handed an eight-game ban for a Grade F charge for assaulting a match official.

He was sent to the sin-bin by referee Michael Smail in the 11th minute during the fixture at Kingston Park.

The Championship club had challenged the severity of the grading, with Foster pleading guilty to the offence.

However, the appeal was rejected by the disciplinary tribunal.

The club said in a statement: “Taking into account the player’s previous exemplary disciplinary record and the mild nature of the contact, Thunder had hoped that whilst accepting contact with the referee was inappropriate, the grading of the offence would be reconsidered.

“The tribunal however upheld the original decision and handed down the suspension which will see Foster ruled out for the rest of the season.

“It is a verdict that club and player accept. But one where Thunder maintain their position with regard to the severity of the grade of charge faced and the appropriateness of the wording used around the communications surrounding the charge.”

Alex Foster regrets actions

Newcastle Thunder are currently 10th in the Championship, and have eight games left of the regular season.

Foster said: “I apologise to Mr. Smail for the incident in the Bradford game. It was a lapse of judgement in the heat of what felt like a crucial point as we defended our line having made an excellent start.

“Referees and officials are crucial to our game, and I regret my response to my frustrations at that moment.”

Director of rugby Denis Betts added: “Having viewed the footage from the game, Alex made the appropriate guilty plea of having made inappropriate contact with a match official.

“We felt having watched both the full speed footage and the slow-motion replays, that there was a realistic case to be made for a reduction in the grading. However the tribunal disagreed. We also challenged the wording of the charge as while there was inappropriate contact with a match official, we felt the term ‘physical assault’ was excessive.

“It is an unfortunate way for Alex to have his playing season ended, but that is where we find ourselves.”

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