Riders reverse course, pull Charleston Hughes from Saturday’s game

The Saskatchewan Roughriders will face the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday without CFL sack leader Charleston Hughes after all.

The Roughriders announced Friday that Hughes has been removed from the team’s active roster and fined the maximum disciplinary amount allowed – half a game cheque – after the veteran rush end was arrested and charged Oct. 11 with impaired driving and failing to provide a breath sample for analysis.

Roughriders head coach/GM Chris Jones had told reporters Thursday in Regina two days after the charges became public that Hughes would play against Calgary. Jones said he reversed his decision later that day.

“We came to the decision between the league, myself, our president, that this was the best course of action to basically do what we’re going this week and not allowing Charleston to join us here,” Jones said.

“He’s disappointed. It’s a very serious offence and he needs to understand it and he does. There were tears in his eyes this morning when he knew he wasn’t going to be getting on that plane to come over and play.”

The team said in a statement that “by refusing to provide a breath sample, Hughes demonstrated behaviour directly in conflict with the club’s values and expectations – which include respecting police and police procedures.”

The 34-year-old Hughes has a CFL-best 15 sacks this season.

Saskatchewan (10-6) is currently second in the West Division, four points behind front-running Calgary (12-3). Both teams have secured playoff berths but are coming off losses.

Hughes was a Stampeder for a decade before he was traded to Hamilton and then Saskatchewan on the same day Feb. 2.

The six-foot-one, 246-pound defensive end is a four-time CFL all-star and won Grey Cups with Calgary in 2008 and 2014.

The Roughriders will face the top-ranked team in the CFL without one of the most feared pass rushers in the league.

“It helps us,” Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell acknowledged. “Charleston is great player and leading the league in sacks. Helps us to go out there and play and focus on the guys we’ve got to play against.”

With no CFL policy to guide his decision, Jones said the team’s code of conduct came into force.

“There’s no manual that says if this happens, this is the course of action to take,” Jones said. “We did what we feel like is necessary.

“Charleston has given the biggest portion of his life to this league. To my knowledge this is the first time something like this has happened. Certainly not to excuse what happened.

“He’s very embarrassed about the situation and very sorrowful for doing that type of thing. He’s got to basically own it and that’s what he’s doing.

“Now it’s our job to come in here and play a professional football game.”

Full statement:

– with CP files

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