Barbarians players faced three charges for breaching Rule 5.12 with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the union or game.
The players breaches of protocol led to their match against England at Twickenham being cancelled
- For events on 20 October and attending a public house with at least six other players and thereby breached (i) agreed Covid protocols, which were in place to maintain a bio-secure-bubble at the Barbarians training camp, and/or (ii) the ‘Rule of Six’ established by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No.2) (England) (Amendment)Regulations 2020.
- For events on the evening the 21 October 2020 relating to visits to one or more separate bars and a restaurant. Each of the players who gathered on those evenings participated in a gathering of more than six persons; these were not reasonably necessary for work purposes; and not necessary for an elite sportsperson for a competition or training. They attracted widespread adverse publicity; potentially put other members of the squad at risk of COVID-19; and /or ultimately led to the cancellation of the England v Barbarians match.
- (All players except for Kerrod charged). Related to providing a false account to the RFU about what they had done on the evening of the 21 October when the matters were being investigated during Thursday the 22 October 2020.All players accepted all charges brought against them.
Group One (Alex Lewington, Fergus McFadden, Juan Pablo Socino, Chris Robshaw, Richard Wigglesworth and Jackson Wray)
Players who went out both on 20 and 21 October and provided a false account.
- A 5-week suspension for each of the two central offences that took place on the Tuesday and Wednesday. These are to run concurrently and are reduced from 10 weeks for each offence as a result of their timely acceptance of culpability and the players other mitigation. Three weeks of the suspension will be suspended subject to two conditions;
1. There is no further off-field offending by the players for the period of one year from the date of this judgment.
2. Lewington, Robshaw, Wray and Wigglesworth are to conduct 50 hours of unpaid rugby community work to be completed before the 19 October 2021. Socino and McFadden to conduct 60 hours of unpaid rugby community work.
- A total fine of 2 weeks’ wages reduced from 4 weeks as a result of mitigation.
As McFadden is no longer a professional rugby player and in a period of transition into a new career and in the circumstances the panel will not impose a financial penalty on him.
Group Two (Calum Clark, Sean Maitland and Tim Swinson)
The older and more experienced players who went out only on the Wednesday evening and then gave a false account.
- A four-week suspension, reduced from eight weeks as a result of their timely acceptance of culpability and their other mitigation. Three weeks of that sanction will be suspended subject to two conditions;
1. There is no further off-field offending by them for the period of one year from the date of this Judgment.
2. Sean Maitland and Tim Swinson are to conduct 50 hours of unpaid rugby community work. In the case of Calum Clark it will be 60 hours.
- A fine of 1.5 week’s wages, reduced from 3 weeks as a result of their mitigation.
Group Three (Joel Kpoku, Manu Vunipola & Tom de Glanville)
Younger players who can be distinguished in terms of the seriousness of their offending because of their age and their position within the group.
- A 3-week suspension, reduced from 6 weeks as a result of their timely acceptance of culpability and other mitigation. The panel agreed to suspend all 3 weeks of that sanction subject to two conditions;
1. There is no further off-field offending by them for the period of one year from the date of this judgment.
2. Kpoku, Vunipola and de Glanville are to conduct 50 hours of unpaid rugby community work.
- A fine of 1 week’s wages reduced from 2 weeks as a result of mitigation.
Group 4 (Simon Kerrod)
Simon Kerrod went out but only on the Tuesday evening; he did not provide a false account. The panel accept that he did not necessarily leave the hotel with the intention of going to the pub but when invited he went without question and when he did so he knew that he was outside of the hotel in breach of the Code of Conduct. The panel concluded leaving the hotel through the fire exit was a deliberate breach of the Code of Conduct.
Although his culpability was less he has to share responsibility for the collective harm that the group caused by their actions.
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