Discipline Update Januaury 2024

Northumberland RFU Discipline Update - Januaury 2024


Men 3

All Clubs need to be aware of two important initiatives from the RFU which will come into immediate effect:

1.Aggravation of sanctions for offences contrary to Law 9.28 [Match Official Abuse];

2.New Guidelines in respect of RFU Regulation 19.5.5 regarding sanctions for unauthorised persons entering the field of play.

Aggravation of Sanctions for Match Official Abuse

The RFU Head of Judiciary has recently published new Sanctions Guidance regarding the mandatory aggravation of sanctions in respect of proven offences of match official abuse. The Guidance was published in full in the recent Community Game Update and has been sent to all clubs via GMS. A further copy of the Guidance will be circulated with this Note.

In summary, where a person pleads or is found guilty of an offence under Law 9.28 [or misconduct contrary to RFU Rule 5.12 arising out of a breach of Law 9.28] the panel hearing the case will approach sanction in the usual way by determining the appropriate entry point based on the circumstances of the offences and then considering any mitigating factors justifying a reduction in the entry point sanction. They will then consider any aggravating features which would result in the sanction being increased. Regardless of any other aggravating features which might be present such as a bad disciplinary record, where the offence is one of match official abuse the panel will automatically increase the sanction by two weeks/matches in respect of offences deemed low end in terms of entry point, four weeks/matches for mid-range offences and six weeks for top end offences.

New Guidelines for unauthorised encroachment on the field of play

Unauthorised encroachment onto the field of a play has been a particular issue in age grade games although there have also been some high profile instances occurring in Premiership matches.

RFU Regulation 19.5.5 states as follows:

The RFU Head of Discipline has the power to provisionally suspend any individual for a period of up to four weeks if such individual has entered the playing area without the permission of the Referee and is subject to a disciplinary or safeguarding investigation as a result.

The RFU Head of Discipline has this week confirmed that CB Disciplinary Secretaries have his delegated authority to exercise this power whenever they have commenced an investigation arising out of an allegation of unauthorised encroachment onto the field of play.

World Rugby Regulations provide that the following persons have authority to enter the field of play:

  • Medics – Appropriately trained first aid or immediate (pitchside) care persons to attend injured players at any time when safe to do so. Such individuals should identify themselves to the referee prior to the game. They must not field or touch the ball whilst it is in live play.
  • Two nominated water carriers during a stoppage in play for an injury or when a try has been scored.
  • A person carrying a kicking tee and one water bottle solely for the kicker’s use where a penalty kick at goal has been indicated or a try has been scored.
  • Coaches attending their teams at half-time.

Clubs are also reminded of the provisions of RFU Regulation 12.5:

No person (other than the Match Officials team or Match Officials coach) shall approach the Match Officials at any time during the half-time interval and up to 30 minutes after the match to discuss any issue arising from the match nor shall enter the Referee’s changing room unless invited to do so by the Referee.

Breaches of these provisions will be regarded as constituting disrespect for the authority of a match official so that proven disciplinary charges will attract the appropriate sanction aggravation pursuant to the recent RFU Sanction Guidance.

Kingsley Hyland

CB Disciplinary Secretary

Northumberland Rugby Union

11th January 2024


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