5 Year Ban, hi-jack?

tim White


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Does anyone else think the above thread is being hi-jacked?

I find the thought of referees openly criticising a disciplinary process that has been visited twice by the highest panel in the country unedifying. Particularly as it is not permitted for referees to be criticised openly. I would suggest if you feel strongly that you use another area to express it -and I suggest, for the good of the game as a whole, not announcing you are a referee.

The circumstantial evidence seems to indicate guilt, a long ban is warranted -the only problem seems to be the short bans dished out to professional players. Increase theirs by all means.
 

Dixie


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The circumstantial evidence seems to indicate guilt
The panel made findings of fact, indicating no guilt. The referee saw nothing wrong with the hand-off. The crowd were not affronted by the hand-off. The victim's team mates were not affronted by the hand-off. The earlier panel stated categorically there was no suggestion of an intent to harm. What circumstantial evidence do you see that indicates guilt?
a long ban is warranted
If guilt is found, agreed. The max for this offence is 52 weeks, yet this player got 5 years. This ratcheting up is only permissible if the striking offence - i.e. an overly-rough hand-off which the ref accepted at the time - can be considered a mid or high range striking offence. Having sat in on a few disciplinary panels as an observer, I'm pretty confident that in the absence of injury, a disciplinary panel would not consider a rough hand-off to be a mid-range striking offence.
the only problem seems to be the short bans dished out to professional players. Increase theirs by all means.
as noted above, there seems to be far more to it than that, Tim. In essence, a hand-off to the face which the ref accepted as normal has been ruled a mid-range striking offence, warranting a red card. Do you propose to follow that inexorable logic and start red-carding hand-offs that you considered not worthy of a PK last season?
 

Ian_Cook


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Since this is in the referee only section I will feel free to say what I think about this.

First, my credentials;
I am a retired referee at what would now be Level 2. I am not sure how this would translate in England, but I refereed Senior club rugby in Canterbury & Auckland Provinces, and school & college first XV rugby. The next step above that was Provincial rugby, so I guess that would be like County Championship or ND2

Now, my cards on the table
► The player concerned had an exemplary disciplinary record (no red cards) going back over 17 years.
► The referee saw nothing untoward, neither did the player's or victim's team-mates.
► The crowd (both sets of supporters) saw nothing untoward.
► There is no video evidence available.

Given all that, I fail to see how the DP, removed from the actual occurrence itself, completely ignored or gave very little weight to the evidence of the MOST qualified witness present, the referee. If I was that referee, I would be handing in my resignation to the RFU along with a "what is the bloody point" letter. I would be furious!

Five years isn't just a draconian punishment... it is outrageous. Even the original punishment (78 weeks) was over the top. Has someone decided to make an example of this player? Have they also decided to send out a message to deter appealing sentences? Can you imagine the DP banning Dan Carter for five years were he to fend off a tackler in a test match, and have the same thing happen? I seriously doubt it.

What also disturbs me about this whole affair is that this was not some dirty little eye-poking toe-rag like Burger, Dupuy or Atoub, attacking a player's eyes with intent to do some damage; this was a player with no previous, fending off a tackler.. an accepted practice that has been a part of the game for well over 100 years. This will seriously affect the game and put referees of ALL levels in a very difficult position. They must now penalise any player who fends to the face, because if they do not, and the same a similar accident happens again, they could end up facing a Vowles v Evans situation.
 

Simon Thomas


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Tim

As Ian says this is the private Referees Only section, so in confidence here is my view.

I fully agree with Tim. The 5 Year Ban debate has moved well outside the scope of this Forum. I feel great sympathy for both players, and everyone else involved, where this is great frustration evident. But whether it was accidental or deliberate, a freak accident, etc is not in my view part of the remit of this Forum. Dixie has raised referee issues but others have gone well beyond that scope.

This Forum is a place for referees to debate law, match management and it's application, plus IRB / RFU guidance (or not).

I do not feel comfortable with the debate on here about whether the RFU Disciplinary process was correct, fair, just, etc. Such debate should (and is) talking place elsewhere in both the public "emotional" space, and amongst those directly involved in the Disciplinary process, and I leave it to them to handle it.

What is correct is for the concerns to be raised regarding the legality and refereeing of the hand-off / fend-off and hopefully for the RFU to issue us with guidance through the Societies. As a Society Chairman, it is my role with our Committee to both raise such concerns with the RFU (already done) and pass back RFU policy / guidance to our members.

There has been no suggestion that the referee was liable in any way whatsoever, and so I don't see it as a Vowles type scenario, but share Ian's view that we need clear clarification and guidance in Law.
 

Ian_Cook


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There has been no suggestion that the referee was liable in any way whatsoever, and so I don't see it as a Vowles type scenario

Simon

I have said my piece and won't be posting on this any more as I agree this is probably not the place.

However my concern is that a referee could be held liable if he does not PK fends to the face. AIUI, from Vowles v Evans;

"Rugby was a dangerous sport and the rules of the game were designed to minimise the dangers. Players were dependent for their safety on the rules being enforced, and enforcement of the rules fell to the referee."

So I imagine a scenario where throughout a match (Red v Blue) there have been several fends to the face, none of which have been PK by Referee "A". Then Red 7 attempts to tackle Blue 12, who fends him off with a palm to the face that pops Red 7's eyeball and blinds him for life.

► Blue 12 get a five year ban (precedent Jennings v Hedford)
► Referee "A" is held liable (precedent Vowles v Evans) because he failed to exercise a duty of care in that he allowed illegal actions to go unpunished resulting in the blinding of a player.

In Vowles v Evans it was poor scrum management, in my scenario is poor management of Law 10.4

Do you not think this is a valid concern?
 

Simon Thomas


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Yes Ian I do in the future, but until we have official guidelines it is a hypothetical debate. I know the Vowles (and other judgements like Wlibraham) almost word-for-word and have had explanations direct from the horses mouth.

That there is no specific Law in the book that covers the legality of a hand-off / fend-off is a concern to me, but lawyers would use a defence of accepted practice no doubt, as well as Judge Blackett's expert witness contribution.

A whole can of worms, and as they say in the Dragons Den, "therefore I am out".
 
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