RFU Discipline

Discipline is one of the core values of rugby. The RFU Discipline team strives to ensure that rugby is a game of controlled physical endeavour and that it is honest and fair.

The RFU’s disciplinary regime reflects World Rugby Regulation 17. It exists to penalise players whose foul play or misconduct is other than purely accidental, and one of its most important principles is to prevent the risk of injury to other players in a dynamic and physical sport. Players have an obligation to ensure that they do not cause injury to opponents, so there is a presumption that any conduct which is proscribed by World Rugby Law 9 (foul play) merits a sanction.

The RFU Discipline Department deals with foul play and misconduct cases in levels 1-4 of the Game. It also deals with appeals from Constituent Body Disciplinary Panels and other specific cases that the Constituent Body Disciplinary Panels do not have the power to deal with, for example, breaches of World Rugby Regulation 10 and 21 (medical and anti-doping) and RFU Regulation 21 (Safeguarding).

There are 35 Constituent Bodies to which the RFU delegates disciplinary powers. These bodies will normally deal with misconduct and foul play cases at level 5 and below.

Members of the RFU Disciplinary Panel and Constituent Body Disciplinary Panels are trained and accredited to sit on such cases by the RFU. In all cases heard by an RFU panel, a written judgment is produced and published on the website.


Citing Commissioner

  • Citing Commissioners are appointed by the RFU for all Aviva Premiership, Greene King IPA Championship and Tyrells Premier 15s matches and shall be entitled to cite a player for any act or acts of Foul Play that in the Citing Commissioner's opinion warranted a red card.
  • For such matches, clubs will not have the power to cite a player but may refer incidents to the Citing Commissioner within 4 hours (Aviva Premiership) or 8 hours (for all other leagues listed above) of the end of the match.
  • The Citing Commissioner will have 24 hours from the end of the match to make a citing in the Aviva Premiership and 48 hours from the end of the match in the Greene King IPA Championship and Tyrells Premier 15s matches. In certain circumstances this deadline can be extended.
  • The RFU Head of Discipline will then bring a charge against the cited player.

Disciplinary Hearing

  • The independent Disciplinary Panel or independent Single Judicial Officer are appointed by the chairman of the independent Disciplinary Panel, Philip Evans QC or the Disciplinary Hearings Manager.
  • If a decision is upheld, the Disciplinary Panel or Single Judicial Officer will be required to consider the appropriate sanction under the sanctioning regime set down in RFU Regulation 19.
  • The seriousness of the player's actions is the first assessment the Panel must make in order to determine which of the three entry points (lower end, mid-range and top end) is the most appropriate.
  • The Disciplinary Panel or Single Judicial Officer will determine the appropriate entry point based on an assessment of a number of particular characteristics of the player's actions, including whether or not they were reckless or intentional, whether or not they caused any injuries and whether or not they had any effect on the relevant match.
  • After deciding the entry point, the Disciplinary Panel or Single Judicial Officer will then consider whether the suspension should be increased from the entry point to take account of certain specified aggravating factors, such as a poor disciplinary record or the need for deterrence, and/or decreased from the entry point to take account of certain specified mitigating actions, such as a guilty plea, a good disciplinary record, the player's conduct at the hearing and expressions of remorse.
  • A suspension is a blanket ban from playing rugby union anywhere in the world. Players are suspended on the basis that a one-week period of suspension would ordinarily result in a player missing one match. Suspensions take into account periods of inactivity (such as the close season), periods when a player is injured or otherwise not fit to play, and when a player is not available or not expected to play. Suspensions should also take into account any out-of-season matches which are not considered to be meaningful, or which are not close enough to the season to be a determining factor in a player's future selection.
  • Both parties to the hearing (RFU and the player) have the right to appeal decisions. Appeals must be lodged within 24 hours (Aviva Premiership) or 48 hours (Greene King IPA Championship and Tyrells Premier 15s matches) from when the full written decision of the Disciplinary Panel or Single Judicial Officer is sent.
  • In all cases, a press release will be issued in advance confirming the details of the charge against the Player, date, time and location of the hearing as well as details of the appointed panel (if confirmed). A second press release will be issued post-hearing confirming the outcome.

The full written decision will be available on England Rugby - Judgments when the disciplinary process is complete.

For the sanction table relating to Foul Play, please go to Regulation 19 - Sanction table  

For a full list of all Disciplinary Panel Members, please go to Independent Panel Member details

RFU Discipline

Head of Discipline David Barnes - disciplinerfu@rfu.com
National Schools & Youth Disciplinary Officer Ian Skillen JP - youthdiscipline@rfu.com
Legal Counsel (Discipline) Stuart Tennant
Department Administrator David Guyan

RFU Judiciary

Head of Independent Rugby Judiciary Philip Evans QC
Disciplinary Hearings Manager  Rebecca Morgan

Policies and guidance