England coaches sanctioned for breach

Date published: October 9 2015

England coaches Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree will have restricted access to the England changing room on Saturday.

The duo will also not be allowed in the tunnel for England’s final Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool A match against Uruguay after being found to have breached the Match Officials Protocol that regulates communication between team members, coaches and match officials on match day.

The breaches occurred during England’s match against Australia at Twickenham on 3 October.

Following submission of the usual post-match report, which identified the incident, members of the England coaching staff were investigated by the Rugby World Cup Disciplinary Officer for an alleged breach of the Match Officials Protocol, which prohibits unauthorised contact between coaches and team members with match officials on match day, in order to protect the integrity of the game.

This includes the pre-match and half-time periods, which is when contact between Farrell, Rowntree and the assistant referees occurred.

Relevant charges were brought by Rugby World Cup Limited in relation to the Protocol breaches and the case was heard by independent Judicial Officer Justice Graeme Mew (Canada) on Friday, 9 October. The breaches were promptly admitted by both of the coaches.

Having considered all the evidence, including a detailed review of the CCTV footage, witness statements and submissions on behalf of Farrell and Rowntree, Justice Mew determined that there was a breach by each of the coaches of the Match Officials Protocol as the teams entered the tunnel at half-time by engaging in contact with the match officials which was unauthorised. He determined that this action could not be described as an insignificant incident and issued the following sanction:

(a) That the two coaches (Farrell and Rowntree) during the England v Uruguay Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool A match on 10 October will not be entitled to access the tunnel area and/or changing room area during the period comprising 15 minutes prior to kick-off, during half-time or during the period 10 minutes following full-time. During these periods, the two coaches must remain in the designated coaches’ box area and/or the seating area reserved for non-playing team members.

(b) A warning and reprimand to each of the coaches and the RFU as to future conduct and in particular with regard to complying with the Match Officials Protocol which was introduced to bring clarity with regard to the engagement between match officials, coaches and union representatives on match day.

Farrell and Rowntree will be free to resume usual coaching activities on Sunday, 11 October, 2015.