The England Rugby Union confirmed the sanction today for the 13 Barbarians players that broke the Covid security protocols and forced the cancellation of the match against England last October. In the main group of managers, it was located Juan Pablo Socino, who will face a harsh sanction.
The Argentine center received a 5-week suspension for the violation of the protocols (of which 3 weeks are suspended) for which it must comply effectively: 2 immediate weeks suspension. In addition, for “False testimony” 2 consecutive weeks are added to a total of 4 immediate weeks of suspension. In addition, he received a fine of 2 weeks of salary and must perform 60 additional hours of social work, to be completed before October 19 21
An independent disciplinary panel chaired by Philip Evans QC today published its ruling on the hearing of 13 players on the field of Barbarian FC Charged by the RFU following violations of the Covid Code of Conduct under Rule 5.12: conduct detrimental to the interests of the union or gambling.
Violations that included misleading the investigation led to the cancellation of the England v Barbarians match scheduled for Sunday, October 25 due to concerns about the risk to the health of other players and the Barbarian leadership, as well as the potential risk to other teams and the integrity of the Autumn Nations Cup.
All players (Alex Lewington, Fergus McFadden, Juan Pablo Socino, Chris Robshaw, Richard Wigglesworth, Jackson Wray, Calum Clark, Sean Maitland, Tim Swinson, Tom de Glanville, Joel Kpoku, Manu Vunipola and Simon Kerrod) they accepted the charges and the independent panel has determined a series of sanctions according to the seriousness of the infractions.
Total charges for 13 players are 85 weeks of match bans; 44 weeks suspended subject to conditions being met and 41 weeks of bans to be taken simultaneously; The players have been fined a total salary of 18.5 weeks and given a total of 630 hours of community service.
The sanctions reflect the seriousness of the charges, which include behaving in a way that ignored what the general public and the Rugby community were complying with and deliberately compromising an investigation that is being carried out by the RFU with the speed that the circumstances demanded.
Before joining the Barbarian FC team camp, the players read and signed a Code of Conduct that stipulated that they should avoid public places; Bars and pubs were specifically prohibited, and players were told not to leave the hotel unless cleared by the medical leader and Covid * manager. Players were provided with a variety of facilities at their hotel, including a dining room and a social area with billiards, table tennis and other games. They could drink alcohol in the atmosphere of the hotel’s Barbarian camp.
Players were also allowed to enter Hyde Park in groups of no more than three to get fresh air, they were asked to provide WhatsApp notifications on departure and on return. Both the Barbarian administration and the Covid Manager repeatedly reminded players of their obligations under the code of conduct. On the afternoon of October 20, Robshaw, Wray and Wigglesworth left the hotel to go get take out drinks at the Footman Pub in Mayfair and have them outside. They later moved into the pub where they were joined by Lewington, Socino, McFadden and Kerrod, against the Level 2 regulations that were in effect in London.
The panel was told; “We knew this was not a technically permitted Code of Conduct at the government level, so to avoid any confrontation, we left the hotel through a fire escape.” CCTV footage showed the group returning through an emergency exit. The seven players had neither requested nor received permission to leave the hotel. The trip was undiscovered until Friday, October 23, 2020. On October 21, 2020 there were new violations of the Code of Conduct. Wray had approached the Barbarian management to ask if the group could visit Sergio’s restaurant. The request was denied because indoor restaurants were not allowed under the Code of Conduct for Level 2 government protocols. Later that day, 12 players left the team’s hotel and went to the Hush bar in Mayfair, The Running Horse pub. and Sergio’s restaurant.
When asked where they had been, the players said they left the hotel to eat at McDonald’s and sat in Berkeley Square drinking takeout. The Panel concluded that it could not tell from the evidence which individual suggested the use of the story, but were satisfied, having heard their evidence that it was not Vunipola, Kpoku, or De Glanville. During the investigation, the 12 players provided a statement saying: “We would like to unequivocally apologize to Barbarians FC and Rugby Football Union for our foolish and wrong actions on Wednesday night. We bitterly regret our stupidity. We want to unequivocally apologize to RFU’s legal officer and attorney for offering misleading statements during our interviews on Thursday; Our basic instinct as rugby players is to stick together and protect each other, but in this case we now realize that we should have told the whole truth. As a group, together, we would now like to establish the precise sequence of events. “
The statement establishes the correct version of events in relation to Wednesday, October 21, 2020. It does not mention the departure that took place on Tuesday night. During the investigation, it was discovered that some players left the hotel on the night of October 20. While additional players had been obtained to replace the team that had been isolated following the non-compliance protocols on Wednesday the 21st, the expert medical advice was that it was not possible to guarantee that all the players on the team were COVID-19 free as a result of the previous infractions. and therefore none of the players could be considered for the game that Sunday. Having considered all crimes that involve non-compliance with Covid protocols, the panel considered visits to pubs, a bar and a restaurant as the most serious crimes. Therefore, the panel decided a clear demarcation in the seriousness of the infraction between those who went out both nights and gave a false account, those who went out only on Wednesday night and gave a false account and Kerrod who was the only player who only he left. Tuesday night and did not provide a fake account.
The players faced three charges for violating Rule 5.12 with conduct detrimental to the interests of the union or the game.
1- For the events of October 20 and attending a bar with at least six other players and, therefore, violated (i) the agreed Covid protocols, which were in force to maintain a biosecurity bubble in the training field of Barbarians, and / or (ii) the ‘Rule of Six’ established by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (No 2) (England) (Amendment) 2020.
2- For events on the night of October 21, 2020 related to visits to one or more separate bars and a restaurant. Each of the players who met on those nights participated in a meeting of more than six people; these were not reasonably necessary for employment purposes; And it is not necessary for an elite athlete for a competition or training. They attracted wide adverse publicity; potentially putting other squad members at risk for COVID-19; and / or ultimately led to the cancellation of the England-Barbarians match.
3- (All players except Kerrod cashed). Related to providing a false story to the RFU about what they had done on the night of October 21 when the matters were being investigated on Thursday, October 22, 2020, all players accepted all the charges brought against them.
Group 1 (Alex Lewington, Fergus McFadden, Juan Pablo Socino, Chris Robshaw, Richard Wigglesworth and Jackson Wray)
Players who came out on both October 20 and 21 and provided a fake account.
A 5-week suspension for each of the two core offenses that occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday. These will run concurrently and will be reduced from 10 weeks for each offense as a result of your timely acceptance of guilt and mitigation of players. Three weeks of suspension will be suspended subject to two conditions;
1. There will be no further off-field offenses by the players during the period of one year from the date of this ruling.
2. Lewington, Robshaw, Wray and Wigglesworth will perform 50 hours of unpaid community rugby work to be completed by October 19, 2021. Socino and McFadden will perform 60 hours of unpaid community rugby work.
A total penalty of 2 weeks of reduced salary of 4 weeks as a result of the mitigation. As McFadden is no longer a professional rugby player and is transitioning into a new career, and under the circumstances, the panel will not impose a financial penalty.
Group 2 (Calum Clark, Sean Maitland and Tim Swinson)}
Older and more experienced players who came out only on Wednesday night and then gave a fake account. Sanction
A four-week suspension, reduced from eight weeks as a result of your timely acceptance of guilt and your other mitigation. Three weeks of that sanction will be suspended subject to two conditions;
1. They shall not commit any more crimes off the field during the period of one year from the date of this Judgment.
2. Sean Maitland and Tim Swinson will do 50 hours of unpaid community rugby work. In the case of Calum Clark it will be 60 hours.
A fine of 1.5 weeks of salary, reduced from 3 weeks as a result of its mitigation.
Group three (Joel Kpoku, Manu Vunipola & Tom de Glanville) Younger players who can be distinguished in terms of the severity of their offense by their age and their position within the group. Sanction
A 3 week suspension, reduced from 6 weeks as a result of your timely acceptance of guilt and other mitigations. The panel agreed to suspend the 3 weeks of that sanction subject to two conditions;
1. They will not commit any further offenses off the field during the period of one year from the date of this sentence.
2. Kpoku, Vunipola and de Glanville must perform 50 hours of unpaid community rugby work.
A penalty of 1 week of salary reduced by 2 weeks as a result of the mitigation.
Group 4 (Simon Kerrod)
Simon Kerrod came out but only on Tuesday night; did not provide a fake account. The panel accepted that he did not necessarily leave the hotel with the intention of going to the pub, but when he was invited he left without question and when he did, they knew that he was outside the hotel in violation of the Code of Conduct. The panel concluded that leaving the hotel through the emergency exit was a deliberate violation of the Code of Conduct. Although his guilt was minor, he has to share the responsibility for the collective harm that the group caused by his actions.
A 2-week suspension reduced from 4 weeks due to timely acceptance of guilt and other mitigations. A penalty of 1 week of salary reduced by 2 weeks as a result of your mitigation.