Essex CB Discipline Update – 24th October 2022

I’m writing to update Clubs on some of the current issues of concern across the County and also remind you of some basic requirements that need to be actioned.

Notification of all red cards and abandoned games within your Club - The Club must report any such events to us within 48 hours. This applies to youth as well as adult games and applies whether the match official is a Society Referee or a Club one. Failure to do so will result in a fee of £25 being applied regardless of the eventual outcome of the case.  To notify us please email me

Club referees must notify us of any red cards issued or games abandoned – This must be done within 48 hours of occurring by emailing as above. If they need some guidance as to what is needed in the report, then they should contact me and I will arrange some support.

Touch judges – Clubs should be ensuring that anyone taking on this role is clear as to their responsibilities, namely, marking touch at the appropriate point for the game to recommence and indicating if a penalty kick or conversion is successful. Unless appointed to the game by the Referee Society, they cannot enter the field of play, comment on the decisions of the match official, or offer advice on something the referee may have missed. They should also adopt a neutral view of the game and not be cheering on their own side. We have already issued a ban to a touch judge who entered the field of play and manhandled players during a melee.

Physical intervention in the youth game – RFU Safeguarding has issued new guidance which is attached to this email. Please ensure all coaches and spectators are aware of this. In the most basic of terms no one can enter the field of play and no one can touch a player. Anyone doing so, including coaches, is likely to face a CB Disciplinary Hearing and a lengthy ban.

Match Official Abuse – The RFU conducted a survey in May 2022 that was completed by 1191 Referee Society Members from all levels of the game, and from every constituent body. The statistics are from the 2021-22 season and make grim reading. I include some of them below

  • 49% had suffered Match Official Abuse or Disrespect
  • Only 37% of those experiencing these offences completed a red card or MOA report form
  • Of those who did 46% felt the outcome and sanctions were unsatisfactory
  • 58% believe these offences have increased in the last 5 years in adult rugby
  • 53% believe they have increased in the youth game

An obvious conclusion from this survey is that under reporting means that there is even more of this unacceptable behaviour going on than we were previously aware of, and this is a serious threat to the reputation of the game. Referee numbers are in decline, and this behaviour whether by players, coaches or spectators is a primary cause of this. Take responsibility for making sure your match officials feel welcome and supported in your Club, and make clear to your people that their actions make a difference.    

Additional Essex CB Sanctions – Clubs were notified last season that we would impose additional sanctions for any instances of behaviour that bring the game into disrepute. This remains our position. Each club is responsible for the behaviour of their members, supporters, coaches and players, and there is an expectation that club personnel should protect match officials. Therefore, I am writing to remind all Clubs that we may add up to 4 additional weeks to the sanction given to a player, coach, member or a spectator found guilty of any form of disrespect of the authority of the match official or abuse of a match official. Clubs are also reminded that any involvement in an abandoned game will require them to attend a formal Disciplinary Hearing.  We will consider deduction of league points, removal of a club from cup competitions, and the holding of games in a closed environment, in order to protect both officials and the reputation of our sport.

Bad Disciplinary Record - The RFU also delegates to the CB Discipline Panel, the task of dealing with any Club with a Bad Disciplinary Record. This is defined by the RFU as any Club with 5 red card offences in one season.  This applies across the whole Club, and does not take into account the size of the Club. The sanctions under consideration for this are broadly the same as the potential Essex additional sanctions above. The Panel may also impose suspended sanctions. 

At this point I would like to thank the club disciplinary leads for the work they do in promoting the Core Values, ensuring Clubs are aware of the Laws of the Game, and also liaising with us and dealing with the disciplinary process.

One of the strengths of our game is that we have a robust system and strong sanctions for when things go wrong, and that we can call those responsible to account. Our process of investigation, based on evidence, must be given time to run its course and in rare instances may have to be put on hold while the police investigate. I would ask everyone to help us protect the image and reputation of the game by keeping speculation off social media when incidents occur. Posts on Club social media pages are potentially damaging to the game, and individuals and their clubs are risking disciplinary proceedings being taken against them if these posts do not uphold the Core Values.  

To end on a positive note, we should all remember that events needing the intervention of the CB Disciplinary Panel occur in a minority of matches. Rugby provides many amazing opportunities for young and old and those in between to get out in the fresh air and enjoy themselves. Whether as a player or spectator, match official, coach, or any of the other myriad of connections we may have to the game, Clubs provide us with a chance to meet others and be part of a wider community beyond our own front doors. It is crucial that everyone takes responsibility for their own actions and makes the effort to make visitors welcome. My thanks to the Clubs that have invited me to visit so far this season, I have seen some lovely rugby played in good spirit and have enjoyed catching up with people outside of a hearing.

 Wishing you all a good rugby season,

Laura Wakefield

Chair Essex CB Discipline



RFU Guidance on Physical intervention -

news articles