Thursday, April 05, 2007

Kick a player in the balls and you will pay dearly

December 29, 2006

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IRB press release:

IRB announces adjusted Regulation 17 sanctions

28 DECEMBER 2006

The International Rugby Board (IRB) has today announced a new adjusted set of sanctions for Regulation 17 relating to illegal and/or foul play and misconduct. As of January 1, 2007 revised recommended sanctions will apply to further promote the consistency of the sanctioning system on a global scale.

The new sanctions were ratified by the IRB Council in November following a comprehensive review of the sanctioning process. Under the revised system Judicial Officers and Disciplinary Committees will have greater flexibility to identify the appropriate entry point for offences of the most serious kind by applying an entry point period between the top end entry point period and the maximum sanction for the offence, while new lower fixed entry points will apply for sanctions at the lower end of the scale of seriousness.

The revised entry point system now incorporates the following structure:

  • a) A flexible entry point for Top End offending between the Top End entry point and the maximum sanction

  • b) Fixed entry points for Mid-Range offending

  • c) Lower fixed entry points for Lower End offending

  • Click here to view the amended IRB Recommended Sanctions

    “As the Game’s Governing body, the IRB has responsibility to promote fair play, protect the welfare of players and match officials and encourage participation at all levels of the Game on a global scale. These new adjusted recommended sanctions will bring further consistency to the system, while maintaining a zero tolerance policy towards illegal play, foul play and misconduct,” said International Rugby Board Chairman, Dr. Syd Millar.

    “The new sanctions are designed to ensure that in all cases a consistent process is applied globally in arriving at the appropriate sanction. Significantly in building greater flexibility into the Regulation Judicial Officers and Disciplinary Committees are further enabled to apply the appropriate sanction based on the revised entry point. This should minimise any hesitation on apportioning the applicable sanction for lower end offences, while identifying a suitable sanction for offences of the most serious kind.”

    “In addition to implementing the new sanctions, the IRB is also taking the appropriate steps towards appointing a streamlined panel of Citing Commissioners that will preside over applicable IRB designated Test matches, further promoting consistency at Test level,” added Dr. Millar.

    While the existing fixed entry point system had proven successful in standardising the approach to sanctioning on a global basis, a need did exist to maintain a system that demonstrated appropriate flexibility, allowing the identification of suitable sanctions for offences at all levels irrespective of how small or severe the offence. Therefore, at its April 2006 meeting the IRB Council requested a review of the recommended sanctions in Regulation 17 and proposals for fine-tuning the system.

    This process had originally been kick-started by a Conference on ‘Illegal and/or Foul Play – what is acceptable in the Modern Game?’ specifically aimed at the practicality of recommended sanctions and related considerations. Attendees at the Conference included; Sir Brian Lochore, Pierre Villepreaux, Bill Beaumont, Keith Wood, Brian Moore, Jock Hobbs, David Pickering, Justin Marshall, Ian McIntosh, John Muggleton, Corris Thomas and Tim Gresson and members of the IRB’s Rugby and Medical Advisory Committees.

    Following the review recommendations to adjust the sanctioning system were put forward to Council which were subsequently approved at its Interim meeting held in Dublin in November.

    “The adjusted sanctions will be introduced globally from January 1, 2007, allowing enough time for them to be bedded in ahead of Rugby World Cup 2007,” added Dr. Millar.


    Some of the law changes are overdue for reform, ie. Law 6.A.5, 10.4 (k) "Verbal Abuse of Match Officials" now suspends a player at the lower-end (LE) of the offense to 6 weeks, to a maximum of 52 weeks. The same law category applies to "Physical Abuse of Match Officials," which ranges from 24 weeks suspension at the lower-end (LE), to a maximum Life suspension.

    Law regulation 10.4 (k) draws a line in the sand about other grievous offenses. Players guilty of "Testicle grabbing or twisting or squeezing" will now face a minimum suspension of a 12-weeks to a maximum of 208 weeks (or 4 years!). Same goes for biting. Be sure to check out all the new regulations and punishments.

    My only question is how these penalties are applied.

    E.g. This past August Wallaby winger Lote Tuqiri was slapped with a five-match ban for a spear tackle on the All Blacks Richie McCaw. A three-man tribunal suspended Tuqiri for almost 11 weeks, but the suspension covered just one Test match and exposed the flaws and credibility of the judiciary system.

    How will the new regulations cover a player who is guilty of an offense during, say, a test match at the end of a season? Will the suspension apply to the off-season? Will it start during the regular club season? Or will it apply to test matches? The new IRB press release doesn't say.


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