Message from Chair of Essex County RFU Discipline

All Clubs in the county have recently received communication from the Chair of Essex County RFU Discipline and we are directed by them to bring this to the attention of all players, team management, members and visitors to the club so please all take time to read the message below:


I am writing to update our Clubs on some issues of concern and also a few general housekeeping reminders around Discipline.  I have also sent this message to your Club Chair of Discipline.

In recent seasons, we have seen an increase of coaches, parents and reserve players entering the field of play without the Referee’s permission. Whilst more noticeable in youth rugby, there have also been instances we have dealt with, in the adult game.

Please make your players, coaches, parents, and spectators aware that anyone entering the field of play without the Referee’s permission will be summoned to appear in front of the CB Discipline Panel, and if found guilty, a 20 match/ week ban will be the entry point for sanction.

We are also seeing an increase in the number of clubs deferring their responsibility to deal with matters or issue sanctions to their members, but instead wait until summoned to a County hearing and await the outcome. This is frustrating for Panel members as there have been several cases where hearings would have been unnecessary if Clubs had dealt with the matter promptly and in line with the sanction table issued by The RFU Regulation 19 Appendix 2 especially when the contravention of Regulations is accepted. In view of this, Clubs must also take this as notice that they are also likely to face severe sanction should the Panel feel a Club is not taking their responsibilities seriously.

As in previous seasons, the CB Discipline Panel will continue to impose an additional sanction of up to 4 weeks/ matches for instances of behaviour that bring the game into disrepute, particularly where any individual (player, spectator, coach, member, or spectator) chooses to disrespect or abuse the match official. In cases where a game is abandoned, Clubs are reminded that they will be required to attend a formal disciplinary hearing. The sanctions that may be considered include deduction of league points, removal from cup competitions or holding games in a closed environment.

As promised, I have listed a few housekeeping items that hopefully are just reminders:

  1. Notification of all red cards and abandoned games within your Club
    The Club must report any such events to us within 48 hours. This applies to youth as well as adult games and applies whether the match official is a Society Referee or a Club one. Failure to do so will result in a fee of £25 being applied regardless of the eventual outcome of the case. To notify us please email
  2. Club referees must notify us of any red cards issued or games abandoned
    This must be done within 48 hours of occurring by emailing as above. If they need some guidance as to what is needed in the report, then they should contact me, and I will arrange some support.
  3. Touch judges
    Clubs should be ensuring that anyone taking on this role is clear as to their responsibilities, namely, marking touch at the appropriate point for the game to recommence and indicating if a penalty kick or conversion is successful. Unless appointed to the game by the Referee Society, they cannot enter the field of play, comment on the decisions of the match official, or offer advice on something the referee may have missed. They should also adopt a neutral view of the game and not be cheering on their own side.
  4. Bad Disciplinary Record
    The RFU also delegates to the CB Discipline Panel, the task of dealing with any Club with a Bad Disciplinary Record. This is defined by the RFU as any Club with 5 red card offences in one season. This applies across the whole Club and does not take into account the of the size of the Club.

Whilst I appreciate that much of the tone of this letter may appear negative, I do appreciate the great work that so many volunteers and club discipline leads do in promoting the Core Values, ensuring awareness of the Laws of the Game and also liaising with the CB Discipline Panel in dealing with the disciplinary process.

One of the strengths of our game is that we have a robust system and strong sanctions for when things go wrong, and that we can call those responsible to account. Our process of investigation, based on evidence, must be given time to run its course and in rare instances may have to be put on hold while the police investigate.

I ask everyone to help us protect the image and reputation of the game by keeping speculation off social media when incidents occur. Posts on Club social media pages are potentially damaging to the game, and individuals and their clubs are risking disciplinary proceedings being taken against them if these posts do not uphold the Core Values.

To finish on a positive, we should all remember that Rugby provides amazing opportunity for so many women, men, girls and boys to get out and enjoy participating in a fantastic sport. Grassroots Clubs are the lifeblood of our sport and provide crucial opportunity to meet others and be part of a wider community. It is therefore vital that we continue to place the Core Values at the heart of our clubs to make them a welcoming environment for all.

Wishing you all a successful season

Keith Hill
Chair Essex County Discipline Committee


Harlow RUFC fully supports the Constituent Body in this and will not hesitate to take its own actions against those who fail to adhere to both the Club and RFU codes of conduct and values – these actions may well be in addition to any sanctions imposed by Essex RFU.  For the avoidance of any doubt, the RFU and Essex RFU have powers to impose indefinite playing bans on players, team officials and spectators, exclude teams from competing in leagues and Cup tournaments and/or deduct league points.

Please help the Club build on its very strong start to the season by ensuring discipline is maintained at all times on the pitch and off it.

Onwards and Upwards!

Paul Tucker
07801 072498
Chairman | Harlow Rugby Union Football Club Limited

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