This is the law
10 Feb 2006
Sanzar has clarified the role of the citing commissioner, disciplinary committees, the hearing, penalties and appeals.
These are the key facts:
1.Ã‚Â Citing commissioners – Who are they and what do they do?
Citing commissioners must have appropriate rugby experience and are required to act independently of match officials.
The Citing Commissioner has, with limited exceptions, 12 hours from the end of the match to cite a player.
The Citing commissioner has the power to cite any player for an act of illegal or foul play which, in the opinion of the Citing commissioner, warranted the player concerned being sent off. Therefore, if a citing commissioner is of the opinion that a referee would have red carded a player, he has to cite the player. It is important to note that all acts of foul play therefore do not necessarily result in a citing.
A citing commissioner may cite a player even if the referee saw the incident and decided either not to act, or to warn the player, or to give the a penalty, or a yellow card and in the circumstances the Citing commissioner, in his opinion the transgression warranted a red card.
Unions or teams cannot cite an opposing player, but the Union or other affiliated body responsible for the management of either participating team may refer an incident to the citing sommissioner for consideration within four hours of the conclusion of the match.Ã‚Â
The citing commissioner’s decision as to whether or not to cite a player is final.
2.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Disciplinary Committees – Who are they and what do they do?
Each of the three Sanzar unions is responsible for appointing a disciplinary committee for each Super 14 match played in their country.Ã‚Â
Each disciplinary committee consists of three members and is chaired by a senior legal practitioner experienced in rugby disciplinary hearings.Ã‚Â The make-up of the disciplinary committee is determined in advance of matches.Ã‚Â
Decisions of the disciplinary committee are made in private and based on simple majority (members can not abstain).
3.Ã‚Â The Hearing – What happens?
A hearing will be convened before a Disciplinary Committee if a player is red-carded by the match referee, cited by the Citing Commissioner or receives three yellow cards in the Super 14 competition.
Players are entitled to attend hearings which are generally held in the country where the match was played, although consideration may be given to have he hearing in another country taking into account e.g. procedural fairness, player travel schedules, etc.
Players are entitled to legal representation and are provided with sufficient opportunity to consider the available evidence prior to the hearing.
In the case of an ordering off, the disciplinary committee will consider the circumstances of the case and determine what further sanction, if any, should be imposed on the player.Ã‚Â
In the case of a citing, the disciplinary committee will review the case and determine whether, on the balance of probabilities, the player committed the acts of illegal and/or foul play alleged.Ã‚Â
A disciplinary committee will not make a finding contrary to a referee’s decision unless it is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, the referee’s reasons for his decision are wrong.
Sanzar is bound by IRB’s Regulation 17 which sets out a schedule of penalties.
In considering penalty, the disciplinary committee must decide if the nature of the offence is at the low, mid-range or high end of the scale of offences set out in the IRB Regulations.Ã‚Â
That decision will determine the “entry point” in terms of the length of suspension which can then be increased or decreased according to the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors.
Mitigating factors could include a player’s good record and character, provocation, remorse, etc.
Aggravating factors could include the player being classified as a persistent offender of the laws of the game, lack of remorse, the need for a deterrent to combat a pattern of offending, premeditated behaviour, injuries.
Players have the right of appeal to an independent Sanzar Appeal Committee. That right to appeal is an important part of rugby’s judicial process and completes the chain of natural justice.
The Appeal Committee for the Super 14 competition comprises one appointee from each of Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Except in cases where the Appeal Committee decides exceptional circumstances exist to warrant conducting a fresh hearing, the player has the burden of proving the decision being challenged should be overturned or varied.
The Appeal Committee has the power to dismiss, quash, or vary the Disciplinary Committee’s decision and/or penalty. It also has the power to take what steps it deems necessary to deal justly with the appeal.
6.Ã‚Â Consistency of SANZAR Judicial Decisions
While the media and public may at times express concerns over the consistency of judicial decisions, it is important to note that every case is different and is treated according to its merits.
Disciplinary sommittees consider in detail all the evidence and submissions put forward by a player. This may include video evidence, evidence from a player/s, evidence from the referee and/or touch judges, medical evidence and legal submissions.
Having considered all the evidence relating to the particular offending and the circumstances of the offender, the disciplinary committee imposes in every case what it believes is a fair and proportionate penalty in accordance with the rules.
At the conclusion of the Super 14 season, Sanzar will undertake a comprehensive review of the tournament in which all aspects of the judicial process are reviewed.