The KCRFU announced in its January 2023 Information Sendout that it will publish the outcomes of both adult and Age Grade Disciplinary Panel hearings. The list of cases is now available on the KCRFU’s website at https://www.kent-rugby.org/club-support/discipline/. The published information broadly adheres to that which is published by the RFU, i.e.:
The motivation behind publication is the KCRFU’s concern at the number and seriousness of cases that are coming before its Disciplinary Panels. Despite the warning that was given at the beginning of the season (see Information Sendout of August 2022), we continue to see too many cases, in particular, relating to Match Official Abuse (15 cases). Across the adult and youth game, and for all alleged offences, we have so far this season been presented with approaching 120 cases – and this, with a few weeks of the season remaining, which sadly, may increase this number.
We see the publication of this data as a means to provide a stronger deterrent to prevent Match Official Abuse and to act as the catalyst of better behaviour more generally across the rugby community (players, officials and spectators).
Naming adult players found guilty of an offence
As part of this process, we also said that we will publish the names of all adults found guilty of the offence(s) alleged against them.
Our Disciplinary Panels operate under delegated authority from the RFU. The RFU itself publishes the names of individuals (and their clubs) who are found to be in breach of RFU Regulations. The KCRFU has been advised that it, too, has the authority to do likewise in respect of cases for which it is responsible, i.e. below Level 5.
However, we are keen to ensure that we implement the correct and proportionate approach to this issue. We have therefore been reflecting upon whether we should adopt a more cautious approach to publishing the names of adults.
We are mindful that our Disciplinary Panels deal with cases, the majority of which derive from the Community and not the professional end of the game and that most individuals who appear before the Panels are amateurs (or at most, semi-professionals, who may have other employment outside of rugby). As such, there is the risk that publishing the outcome and sanction imposed arising from the rugby disciplinary process might adversely impact upon an individual’s personal, work life and livelihood.
As an example, we know that in the financial services sector, employees are held to high standards of honesty and probity. Should news of a rugby-related sanction become widely known (even of a non-criminal nature), this could lead to someone losing their job. Also, once something is published on the Internet, it stays there, so this may adversely affect an individual in the longer-term, for example when seeking to secure a job interview, where an Internet search by a potential employer and/or head-hunter might reveal a rugby-related offence. Even from a purely rugby perspective, publishing a the name of an individual found guilty of an offence may result in the opposition goading a player once his/her sanction has been ‘spent’.
We have therefore decided for the time being not to publish the names of individuals found guilty of offences. However, we should not wish to lose the option of introducing it as a general deterrent at some stage, should it be required and we are aware that the RFU is considering requiring CBs from next season to publish the names of individuals (at all levels of the game) who are found guilty of Match Official Abuse. As regards those found guilty of other offences, we will reserve the right to publish names, pending the extent to which, if any, publication of anonymised information changes behaviour for the better. This approach does not remove the right of the Disciplinary Panel to publish names should the circumstances of an individual case make it appropriate, having due regard to the seriousness of the offence or repeat offending.
As previously confirmed, we will not publish the names of those individuals aged under 18 years, whether they appear before the Adult or Age Grade Disciplinary Panel.
Nigel Fray (Hon. Secretary & Director of Governance), Huw Gronow & Simon Corcoran (Joint Chairs of Adult Discipline Committee), Andy Gent (Chair, Youth Discipline)