How do appeals work?

The player, his/her Union, the Host Union, the Tournament Organiser and World Rugby have the right to appeal decisions. Appeals in 15s are usually heard by a three-person Appeal Committee who have no prior connection with the case (but can also be heard by an Appeal Officer). In Sevens they are usually heard by a single Appeal Officer. Ex-players, coaches and referees (who meet the independence criteria) may also be asked to sit on Appeal Committees.

Appeal hearings are not simply a second hearing of the case. The Appeal Officer/Committee will have access to the recording and file of the first hearing so ordinarily do not re-hear witnesses or accept new evidence unless there are exceptional circumstances (e.g., the recording is unavailable). Instead, the onus in an appeal is on the party appealing (the appellant) to prove that the Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committee’s decision was in error in fact or law, should be overturned in the interests of justice or that the sanction was manifestly excessive, wrong in principle or unduly lenient. If the appellant can convince the Appeal Officer/Committee of one of the above failings in the Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committee’s decision, then the appeal will be allowed and the Appeal Officer/Committee will issue a new decision/ sanction in line with the process explained above.