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16th March 2018
Officials of two rugby clubs in the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Premier League, a division of the RFU’s South West Division, as well as a match referee, have accepted charges of providing ‘false or misleading information’ about a match scheduled to have taken place in February this year.
The two clubs (Slough RFC and Chipping Norton RFC), their respective Head Coaches, Slough’s Away Official and the match referee were all found guilty of falsely completing a results card to show that a match that had in fact been called off, had taken place. In doing so both clubs were awarded league points for a draw and try bonus.
In an Independent Competition Hearing, apart from the match referee who provided no response to the charge brought against him, all parties accepted the matters alleged by the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the sport’s governing body.
The match between the two sides, scheduled to have taken place on 6 February 2016, was called off due to adverse weather conditions and under RFU Regulations, should have been rescheduled. Instead the aforementioned parties agreed to complete the RFU Official Match Result Card to falsely show that the match had taken place, ending in a 24-24 draw with four tries scored by each club.
The regulations and rules breached were: RFU Regulation 2.4 (Duty to Act with the Utmost Good Faith); RFU Regulation 13.6.12(c) (Completion of Match Result Card); and RFU Rule 5.12 (Infringements).
All parties were found to have shown ‘genuine regret and remorse’ for their actions, but the panel also found that there had been ‘deliberate collusion’ and a gain of ‘competitive advantage’ by both clubs, which were considered ‘aggravating features’. The result of the match was declared void and both clubs were deducted 25 league points respectively, while the four individuals charged were suspended from the game for 14-20 weeks each.
“Each RFU Club is responsible for ensuring that information provided on a Match Result Card is accurate,” said the RFU in a statement emailed to The Sports Integrity Initiative. “The provision of false or misleading information on players or replacements is a serious breach of RFU Regulation.”
In a statement from Slough RFC, confirmed by a spokesperson for the club, Mark Casey, they said, “It is very disappointing and the individuals involved regret the decision. Everyone knows it was a very clear error in judgement and we are not going to dispute it in any way.”
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