What is the process to deal with Foul Play?

Red Cards and Citings

The process for red cards and citings is fairly similar under the World Rugby Regulations. The player will appear at the hearing which may be conducted in person in one location, by video conference or a combination (i.e., some persons present and others by video conference).

The hearing will usually follow this process:

  1. The Judicial Officer will confirm that the player has received the relevant documents and materials (e.g., red card form, citing form, video clips, medical report, witness report, etc.).
  2. The Judicial Officer will ask the player if he/she accepts the red card or citing was correctly issued.
  3. If the player accepts the red card or citing, the hearing moves straight to the sanctioning stage (and the player may get some reduction in sanction for the “early plea”, see below).
  4. If the player does not accept the red card or citing, he/she will state the grounds of his/her challenge (which for a red card or a citing will usually be that the action was not worthy of a red card, even if it was Foul Play, or that it was an accident and thus not Foul Play; but could also be that he/ she is not the player who committed the action, i.e., mistaken identity, etc.). The hearing will then move to consider the action (e.g., was it Foul Play and did it meet the ‘red card test’?). After considering the evidence on this and questioning the player and any witnesses as necessary, the Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committee will usually pause to deliberate in private before delivering their decision. If the decision is that there was Foul Play and the act was worthy of a red card then the hearing moves to the sanctioning stage (see below). If the decision is that either there was no Foul Play or, even if there was, it did not merit a red card, the case is dismissed and the player is free to play immediately.

A quick reference guide which you may wish to have with you at hearings is attached as Appendix 2. 

Accumulation of Yellow Cards/Citing Commissioner Warnings

As mentioned above, the other circumstance in which a case can come before a Judicial Officer/ Disciplinary Committee is where a player receives:

  1. a red card for two yellow cards;
  2. two (or more) Citing Commissioner Warnings (CCW) or one (or more) CCWs and one yellow card in the same match; or
  3. any combination of three yellow cards or CCWs in a tournament (or five in a series of 7s tournaments).

Players should have received copies of the yellow card and CCW forms from the Union or Tournament Organiser responsible for the match shortly after they were issued and have the opportunity at that stage to register a challenge against the card or CCW. If the player has registered a challenge against any/all of the cards/CCWs then the Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committee will consider the evidence in relation to the card/CCW in question. If the Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committee decides that one (or more) of the cards/CCWs was incorrectly issued then that card/CCW is dismissed and the player is free to play again. If there is no challenge to any of the cards/CCWs or the Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committee considers them to have been validly issued, the case moves to sanction (see below).

Hearings are conducted in private (i.e., not open to the media) and should be at least audio recorded (in the event of an appeal).