NORTH MIDLANDS RUGBY FOOTBALL UNION LIMITED
Chair of Discipline Committee: Robert Bray
6, Drovers Way, Astwood Farm, Worcester, WR3 8QD
Tel: 07737 290210
28th October 2019
Dear Club Chairman,
Since the start of the current season, the North Midlands Disciplinary Committee (‘Committee’) has seen a marked increase in the number of red cards being issued for foul play resulting in contact with an opponent’s head and/or neck.
Notwithstanding the inherent risk of causing an opponent serious injury when committing any act of foul play involving the head and/or neck (with the criminal & civil liability consequences that can follow), it is worth reminding all players within your club that the RFU Discipline Regulations prescribe that any act of foul play which results in contact with an opponent’s head and/or neck shall result in at least a mid-range sanction.
In practice this means that even if no injury is sustained, punching or striking an opponent with a hand or arm will result in a sanction of at least 6 weeks’ suspension from playing; kicking an opponent will result in a sanction of at least 8 weeks’ suspension from playing; and striking an opponent with the head will result in a sanction of at least 10 weeks’ suspension.
The Committee can (in appropriate cases) reduce any such period of suspension by a maximum of 50% provided all mitigating factors are present, but any player found to have committed an act of foul play which results in even minimal contact with an opponent’s head and/or neck will face a suspension from playing of at least 3 weeks.
I attach a copy of the current sanctions table issued by the RFU. Regulation 19 (which outlines the disciplinary procedure to be followed in all cases) can be found at – REGULATION
Chairman, North Midlands Disciplinary Committee
Cc Club Hon. Secretary
To be updated for 2019/2020 season, but use in the meantime:
Please use this link to see the 2018 / 2018 Disciplinary update: Discipline letter to all clubs 2018
North Midlands RFU – Discipline Principles
- RFU Regulation 19 applies to all disciplinary matters arising under the RFU Rules and RFURegulations. The North Midlands Disciplinary Panel (‘NMDP’) is empowered by the RFU todeal with disciplinary matters involving clubs at level 5 or below situated within its geographical area.
- Once sent off, no player may play rugby anywhere until his club has been given a free to play date, in writing, by the NMDP. Penalties for playing whilst under suspension are potentially severe, for both the player concerned and the club.
- Referees should complete a sending off report on every occasion a player is sent off. Thereasons for this are to ensure that the player’s disciplinary record is complete on GMS andthat his full record is taken into account when considering any sanction, especially when considering any mitigation or aggravating factors. It is also a requirement of Law 6.18. If thereferee believes he may have “got it wrong” then he should say so in his report.
- Where sending off is deemed to be sufficient, the NMDP will endeavour to declare theplayer “free to play” before the next scheduled match. However, it should be noted that if,for example, a player has a bad disciplinary record, any guideline sanction may be increased by on or off field aggravating factors. Therefore, a club cannot presume that any sanction will be upheld until the free to play date has been received from the NMDP. Indeed, theremay be cases where the NMDP reduces the club’s sanction.
- Clubs are strongly encouraged to hold their own internal discipline meetings, guided by RFU Regulation 19 which is documented in the RFU Handbook and wherever possible the NMDP will endorse their findings.
- Clubs and players are reminded that, in line with established NMDP practice, there will be an additional tariff of 2 weeks’ suspension in all cases where “referee abuse” is proven oradmitted.
- Administrative fees are payable by clubs to cover the cost of hearings and administration. Non-payment of fees may itself be the subject of further disciplinary action.
- As well as Red Card offences the NMDP will from time to time deal with other matters as described in Regulation 19.1.10.
- The NMDP shall consist of a maximum of 3 voting members. The Disciplinary Secretary and Record Keeper may also be in attendance but will not vote if their presence takes the number of voting members beyond 3.
- Clubs must provide to the NMDP the RFU id and date of birth of any players sent from the field of play within 48 hours of the match, together with confirmation of the date and time when they intend to hold their own internal disciplinary meeting.
- Robert Bray (Chair), Peter Jordan (Sec), attend all meetings. Other members (2 or 3) are invited from the North Midlands Full Committee.
- The player is expected to attend usually with supporters – witness to the incident and character witness.
- The player and witnesses sit to face the panel – referee to the side.
The Hearing – Start
- Chairman welcomes all attending and makes introductions.
- Chairman reads out the charge and asks for a plea. Witnesses depart – player and referee remain.
- Referee invited to comment on his report – only do so if something is to add.
- Player asked if he has seen the report and give evidence.
- Player questioned by the panel.
- Witnesses to the incident are called to give evidence and answer questions.
If offences are not admitted
- Player, referee and witnesses retire while panel decide whether to proceed. Then receive evidence.
- All return to hear decision. If not proven, case is dismissed – however if on the balance of probabilities it is more likely then the offence is proved.
If case is proved (admitted)
- Character witnesses called and heard and questioned.
- Past 5 years playing record determined.
- All again leave for panel to decide on the penalty.
- All return to hear decision from the Chairman, reason for the decision and receive notification in writing.
Options available to the panel
- Not Proven
- Sending off sufficient
- Caution / Reprimand
Period of suspension – Guidelines from the RFU.
25th January 2018
Re: New Law Book and Age-Grade Disciplinary Sanctions
As most of you are aware, on 1st January 2018 World Rugby introduced a new Law Book and updated discipline sanctions table.
The purpose of this change is to streamline the Laws of Rugby and to give a wider scope for acts of foul play to be dealt with effectively by Club, CB and National Discipline Panels when they occur. I attach a copy of the new Youth Rugby sanctions table, showing the old Law, the new Law and the updated sanctions for each offence.
This will assist all Clubs to ensure that they discipline their players correctly, using the right Law and the appropriate sanction.
This leads me to the second reason for my letter to you. As you know there are very few age- grade disciplinary incidents (in particular significant ones) whether in schools, colleges or clubs and, as a result, my workload is thankfully light. However, sometimes it is too light. Over the past few seasons, I have received fewer Red Card reports and these have always come from Society referees.
We are aware that it is increasingly difficult for the NMSRFR to appoint Society referees for junior club games. This means that many junior club games are refereed by club referees. A club referee has all of the powers of any rugby referee, including the power to send off a player for foul play. Where a club referee issues a red card it is important that they complete a sending off report (attached), which the club must send it to me within 48 hours.
Discipline is one of our core values. It is vital that we maintain the best standards of discipline in the game by ensuring that where foul play occurs, it is properly dealt with. Please ensure that your Junior Rugby officials and the referees that they appoint are aware of the important role that they play in keeping rugby safe and well-disciplined.
I wish you a safe and successful remainder of the season.
North Midlands Youth Disciplinary Secretary