A letter from the Discipline Chairman

September 2014

For the attention of:
All Clubs, Schools and Colleges

Dear All

Re: Discipline – please circulate to all players and coaches

The annual discipline letter is part of the GRFU approach to ensuring that clubs, teams and individual players understand the key issues of the way that the discipline process will be managed.

GRFU, with the RFU, is leading a pilot in Game Culture & Behaviour, on and off the field, focussing on referee abuse, the acute shortage of referees, the enjoyment of the game for all involved, players, refs, spectators, coaches etc. The RFU core values Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship, are central to all we strive to achieve and every one of us has an active role to play in ensuring they are upheld.

Anyone witnessing inappropriate behaviour should take appropriate action to prevent its continuance and repetition.

Club Management Teams will have responsibility for the behaviour of everyone associated with the game in their club at both senior and junior level.

Some key issues to take into account:

To support clubs we have revised the GRFU booklet entitled “Guide to Discipline for Clubs and Schools”, copies of which will be sent to every club and school; please distribute them to club officials and coaches etc. It is a short ready reference document and includes diagrams which detail the discipline process through the Club, Youth and Schools. The booklet can be downloaded HERE.
It is not an all-encompassing document and further information can be obtained from regulation 19 on the RFU website or the County Discipline Secretary.

Abuse of Match Officials
The RFU and GRFU strongly believe that any form of abuse or dissent towards match officials should not be tolerated. Two years ago we introduced a deterrent element to any ‘match official abuse case’ in order to prevent this type of behaviour. This deterrent will remain in place for the forthcoming season and will be applied after the entry point is determined in the sanctioning process; an additional 2 weeks will be added under the consideration of aggravating factors (Rule 19.11.10. b.).

Clubs are reminded that they have a direct role in controlling the behaviour of their coaches, spectators and players on the field. Failure to take responsibility for this or repeat offending could ultimately lead to a financial penalty, significant loss of league points for the club or taken into account for RFU accreditation applications or Health Checks.

Bad Language
We continue to receive complaints concerning the high volume of bad language coming from the players. We have also had complaints relating to abusive language from spectators towards the referee or other match officials; again clubs are responsible for marshalling to prevent this from happening.

Bad language, abusive or not, does not help project the rugby image which we want to display as part of the development of our game. I will discuss the issue with the referees and ask clubs to take appropriate steps to ensure that spectators and officials are not subjected to this sort of behaviour.


Key points about the discipline process

RFU Regulation 19 provides all the information relating to discipline; clubs and school officials should refer to it if they are involved in a discipline case

Any player sent off by the referee is NOT permitted to play UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES until their case has been considered by either the GRFU or Schools Disciplinary Process.

Your club disciplinary committee should continue to hold an internal club hearing after a sending off and inform the GRFU Discipline Secretary of its findings within 48 hours of the offence. The player will remain suspended whatever the club decides until after the case has been fully resolved by either the GRFU or Schools Disciplinary Process.

RFU Regulations specify that the match referee and the club secretary for the player sent off must submit the referee report to/or inform the CB Discipline Secretary within 48 hours of the match, so that they can take control of proceedings early. Compliance with these regulations is essential to ensure that the case is dealt with as quickly as possible avoiding unnecessary periods of suspension.

In relation to prompt case progression, the regulations have been amended to allow for a greater use of pleading guilty by post or by email in appropriate cases. This enables the disciplinary panel to deal with the offence based on these documents without having to hold a formal hearing.

The disciplinary panel will continue to hold a hearing where a player indicates a not guilty plea and they can also decide to see the player (e.g. in serious cases or where the player is a persistent offender etc.) and adjourn postal consideration. Again you are reminded that whatever the approach or plea, the player will remain suspended until the case has been resolved either by GRFU, the RFU or School.

Supporting evidence that you would like the panel to consider should be sent to the Disciplinary Panel Secretary at least 48 hours before the hearing.

The GRFU Discipline Secretary will arrange a hearing as soon as possible, normally within 7 to 14 days on receiving all the information. We have also appointed new panellists for the two area panels, one operating in the south and one in the north of the county, to help with travel and to speed up the process.

Players who appeal will remain suspended and appear in front of an RFU Disciplinary Panel.

Any citing must be signed by the nominated official from the Union, Club or School and sent to the GRFU Discipline Secretary within 14 days.

Finally, I wish everyone well for the forthcoming season and request that we all do what we can to ensure that our game remains special because of the Values that we consider important Teamwork, Respect, and Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship.

During the course of the year I hope to visit as many clubs as possible to meet with you informally to discuss any issues that you may have or if you prefer please feel free to email or call me.

Kind regards

Bryan Parsons

GRFU Discipline Chairman