Rugby: Chabal suspended over ref comments

France rugby forward Sebastien Chabal was suspended for a fortnight by his club Racing-Metro today over derogatory comments he made about referees.

His suspension came in the wake of his facing disciplinary action as the French Rugby Federation (FFR) announced earlier on Tuesday it would be calling him to account for them.

The FFR said it would be demanding that the Rugby National League (LNR) disciplinary commission summon the 33-year-old Racing-Metro star to explain his comments that the referees were biased.

"The club disapproves of the views of Sebastien Chabal in the article 'Player passionate by his sport' in the April 24 edition of the 'Journal du Dimanche' newspaper, even if they should be placed in its proper context," the club said in a statement.

"Racing-Metro 92, desirous of respecting the rules and the body of referees, after meeting with the player, have decided to suspend him till May 11 or until the decision of the LNR Disciplinary Commission."

The suspension will see Chabal miss just one Top 14 match as Racing are not involved this weekend as it is the European Cup semi-finals.

As they have already qualified for the end of season play-offs he may even have been rested for the final league match the weekend after next.

However, the club recognised that referee decisions had reverberations throughout the domestic league.

"The players, the directors, the coaches can feel a form of injustice on account of decisions which can have a negative impact on the competition, and ruin the enormous amount invested in that campaign," Racing said.

"Competitors like Sebastien Chabal can go over the top with an ill advised statement like the one he made, which risks penalising both the player and the club for the end of the season."

The FFR had made its displeasure clear over the remarks in an earlier statement.

"Refereeing falls under the FFR's domain, which also includes the professional championships organised by the LNR," the statement read.

"The Disciplinary Commission will examine the statements made by Sebastien Chabal with regard to the rules of the FFR and the LNR and to judge them accordingly."

Chabal - capped 62 times but dropped for the final Six Nations match against Wales after their stunning loss to Italy - told the Journal Du Dimanche 'the Top 14 referees are hopeless'.

He claimed that they favoured Castres, whose former president is the LNR supremo Pierre-Yves Revol, and Biarritz, which is run by Revol's predecessor at the LNR Serge Blanco.

"It is the reality. I take as an example a match from last season where everyone saw what was going on," he said.

"The guys (the referees), they don't even try and hide it. It is a pity for our sport."

Chabal, who is equally critical of the referees in his autobiography 'Ma petite etoile' (My Little Star) which comes out on Wednesday, said that Biarritz still enjoyed favouritism.

"Before, it was the same with Biarritz and it is still the case though a little less so," he said.

"One only has to look at the European Cup pools draw: Biarritz never have challenging groups. They have the luck, good for them."

- AFP

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