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The Wigan forward Tony Clubb has been suspended for eight games by the Rugby Football League after being found guilty of racially abusing Hull’s Andre Savelio, but an independent tribunal has stated that they believe the 33-year-old is not a racist.

Savelio made an allegation of racism against Clubb during last Thursday’s meeting between the two sides, alleging that the prop called him a “stupid Polynesian cunt” during the game at the DW Stadium. Clubb subsequently received a Grade F charge of unacceptable language/abuse based on national or ethnic origin.

A Grade F charge carries a minimum suspension of eight games, meaning Clubb has been handed the lowest possible punishment after being found guilty on Tuesday night. He has also been fined £500, and could be subject to internal disciplinary action at Wigan, after they suspended him in the aftermath of the incident over the weekend.

However, despite being found guilty of racially abusing Savelio, an independent tribunal chaired by judge Guy Kearl QC said they were satisfied Clubb was not a racist, with his language instead being used in “the heat of the moment”.

“We have considered the evidence of both players and the circumstances surrounding the allegation and find that we are reasonably satisfied, taking into account the seriousness of the charge, that the words were said, albeit in the heat of the moment, but nevertheless were said,” Kearl said.

“They do constitute unacceptable language based on [a player’s] racial and ethnic origin and therefore we find that this was serious misconduct which has brought the game into disrepute. On the other hand we have considered the character references placed before us by Wigan Warriors from those who know Tony Clubb well at the club.

“We do not find that he is a racist, simply that on this occasion he used unacceptable language in the heat of the moment. We have therefore reduced the penalty to take account of his character and good disciplinary record to a suspension for eight matches and a £500 fine.”