Red Cards/Citings

Step 1: The Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committee assesses the seriousness of the Foul Play (low-end, mid-range, top-end) by reference to the following factors (see Regulation 17.18.1):

  1. whether the offending was intentional;
  2. whether the offending was reckless, that is the Player knew (or should have known) there was a risk of committing an act(s) of Foul Play;
  3. the nature of the actions, the manner in which the offence was committed including part of body used (for example, fist, elbow, knee or boot);
  4. the existence of provocation;
  5. whether the Player acted in retaliation and the timing of such;
  6. whether the Player acted in self-defence (that is whether the Player used a reasonable degree of force in defending themselves); 
  7. the effect of the Player’s actions on the victim (for example, extent of injury, removal of victim Player from the game);
  8. the effect of the Player’s actions on the Match;
  9. the vulnerability of the victim Player including part of victim’s body involved/affected, position of the victim Player, ability to defend themselves;
  10. the level of participation in the offending and level of premeditation;
  11. whether the conduct of the offending Player was completed or amounted to an attempt; and
  12. any other feature of the Player’s conduct in relation to or connected with the offending. 

As you will appreciate it is a sequential exercise, considering the facts of every case against the checklist above.

With the Law number and category of conduct (e.g., high tackle, stiff arm tackle, etc.) the entry point will then be identified in the sanctions table. For example, for a dangerous tackle (Law 9.13) the mid-range entry point is 6 weeks. The sanctions table is attached as Appendix 3. This entry point is the starting sanction (in number of weeks/matches) which can be decreased and/or increased at Steps 2 and 3 to arrive at the final sanction. You will see in the sanction table that for a number of different categories of Foul Play where the victim player’s head is involved the action requires a mandatory mid-range sanction starting point.

Step 1 is the only stage of the process where the incident itself is reviewed and assessed. The next two steps look at external factors relating to the player him/herself to decrease or increase the sanction from the entry point.

Step 2:The Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committee will decrease the sanction taking into account the mitigating factors of the player’s case as follows (note: again, these relate to factors rather than the act of foul play itself (see Regulation 17.19.1)):

  1. the presence and timing of an acknowledgement of the commission of foul play by the offending Player;
  2. the Player’s disciplinary record;
  3. the youth and/or inexperience of the Player;
  4. the Player’s conduct prior to and at the hearing
  5. the Player having demonstrated remorse for his/her conduct to the victim Player including the timing of such remorse; and
  6. any other off-field mitigating factor(s) that the Disciplinary Committee or Judicial Officer considers relevant and appropriate.

The reduction is calculated as a percentage starting at 0% up to a maximum 50% based on an assessment of the factors above (e.g., a young player with a previous suspension but who “pleaded guilty” immediately, apologised to his/her opponent on the field and behaved appropriately at the hearing may merit a 50% reduction for mitigation – please note this is just an example). That percentage is then deducted from the entry point. This means that in the mid- range high tackle example which has a 6-week entry point, a 50% reduction for mitigation would be a reduction of three weeks (i.e., 50% of 6 weeks is 3 weeks). 

There is one exception to give the Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committees flexibility to deal appropriately with low-end cases. Where, having taken into account the mitigating factors, the Judicial Officer/ Disciplinary Committee considers the sanction which would be reached having followed the above process in a low-end case would be wholly disproportionate to the level and type of offending involved, the Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committee may reduce the sanction by more than 50% down to no sanction in appropriate cases. Note, this provision applies only in cases of a low-end entry point (see Regulation 17.19.3).

Step 3: The Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committee shall then determine if any additional period of suspension will be added should any of the following aggravating factors be present (note: these relate to factors other than the act of foul play itself (see Regulation 17.20.1)):

  1. the Player’s status generally as an offender of the Laws of the Game;  
  2. the need for a deterrent to combat a pattern of offending in the Game where the teams participating in the Match or Tournament have been put on notice that such a need exists; and
  3. any other off-field aggravating factor(s) that the Disciplinary Committee or Judicial Officer considers relevant and appropriate (including poor conduct prior to or at the hearing).

Completing the example above where the player has received a 50% reduction from the entry point of 6 weeks due to the presence of mitigating factors (6 weeks minus 3 weeks) and is now at 3 weeks, if aggravating factors are found, for example if the player has a poor disciplinary record, there could be an increase of, say, one week resulting in a final sanction of 4 weeks.

Step 4: The final step is for the Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committee to set out when the sanction ends. 

The sanction must start immediately but must also apply when the player would have been scheduled to play in meaningful matches on each week during that time period. This means that a four-week sanction may last longer than four calendar weeks in order to cover four match weeks. For this purpose all matches are equal (this is a core principle of the Regulations decided by World Rugby Council) provided they are legitimate, meaningful matches of rugby the player would otherwise have played in. There is no difference for this purpose between the Rugby World Cup final and a scheduled pre-season club game, provided the player would have played and that pre-season match is a meaningful match for the purposes of the Regulations. This can become complicated during “rest/bye” weeks, where the player is injured, at the end of tours, where there is doubt as to the standard of the game (e.g., some 'friendlies') or where at the date of the hearing it is unclear if a team will progress to the playoffs of a competition (and those matches would count towards the sanction). Sometimes Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committees will need to examine the player’s schedule during the hearing or ask for additional evidence to be filed to prove the player would have played (see Regulation 17.21.2 and 17.21.3).

There are no fines imposed.