FRU Overview of Discipline
When a player receives a red card or two yellow cards in a match, the referee will submit a report by the Monday following the match. A player who receives a red card is entitled to have a hearing (which are conducted by Zoom/Google Meets, or similar technology). The committee is trying hard to allocate resources so that we can accomodate hearings for every red card the week following the match in which the red card was given. A player is suspended from any further play until a hearing can be held, or a ruling is submitted. Assume if your player has gotten a red card that they CANNOT play until you are able to secure a hearing and/or ruling with the discipline committee.
The player is provided 2 options for a hearing:
- a one person hearing with a JO or DC committee member that is scheduled between the player, the JO/DC representative, and interested parties such as club coach or captain or club president
- a panel of 3 members from the disciplinary committee, these hearings are usually held at 8:30 PM on Wednesdays and the offending player is expected to attend and may bring a representative if desired.
Prior to the hearing, the player is provided with a copy of the referee report and any other evidence that is being reviewed (if there is video, additional statements). The player should provide any evidence they may wish to submit (including other video of the incident) preferably prior to the hearing.
Items for clubs to consider when preparing for the hearing include the standard SANCTIONS which are applied to all levels of play by world rugby so they may understand potential sanctions for the red card.
World Rugby Regulation 17 can be found at this link. This includes information on mitigating and aggravating factors that are considered by the committee. Unless determined by the JO/DC otherwise, the entry point for consideration of most red cards issued is a mid-range offense.
The hearing is composed of 2 parts. The first is for the JO/DC to determine if this was a red card offense. If it is deemed to have met the red card test, the second step is to determine the appropriate sanction. Players should be ready to discuss their disciplinary history (if any) and teams should be ready to provide their upcoming schedule.
If parties from both clubs are present, there is no cross examination by the parties of any statements that are given.
Actions that would constitute foul play, or other acts of misconduct, may be reported by the referee, other coach/players, or a citing commissioner (ex after the match, social) and such actions will be investigated following Regulation 18.
If we receive no response from the club in terms of how to get in touch with the player OR the club does not respond to us in order to set up the hearing:
The chair (or committee) will rule on the matter usually within 1 day of the hearing. The rulings and all communications from the D/C will be sent the President and Coach whose information is on file and published with the FRU on the contact page of the website. The ruling by the D/C will be conveyed by email and will include if Foul Play was found/admitted, will state the seriousness of offense, the entry point for sanction, any aggravating factors, any mitigating factors, and any appeal rights.
The USA Rugby Regulations can be found at this link.
World Rugby Head Contact Protocol can be found at this link
This is an overview of the discipline process and does not supercede that outlined by the by-laws and World Rugby. The following was written to simplify and summarize World Rugby Regulations 17, 18 and 20 and the FRU proceedings and likely relevant timelines. However, Procedures or proceedings under Regulation 17 and/or Regulation 18 or any decision of a Disciplinary Committee, Judicial Officer, Appeal Committee or Appeal Officer shall not be quashed or held invalid by reason only of any defect, irregularity, omission or other technicality unless such defect, irregularity, omission or technicality raises a material doubt as to the reliability of the findings or decisions of a Disciplinary Committee, Judicial Officer, Appeal Committee or Appeal Officer or results in a miscarriage of justice. (17.28.2). This means if the referee is late to file a report or the information is not processed within certain timelines, this is not grounds for dismissal or appeal. In the case of a citation (no red or yellow card is shown), a direct ruling by the DC prior to a hearing is not reason for a dismissal but is reason for an appeal to have a committee ruling and hearing. If an appeal is requested, it must be requested in writing to the Discipline Chair and must state the basis for the Appeal. Grounds for an appeal include cases of mistaken identity, video evidence which is contrary to that written in the report, and aggravating or mitigating factors that were not known during the sanctioning process. It is highly recommended that clubs send in their own report prior to sanctioning so that mitigating factors can be considered. Failure of a player/player representative to send a report which provides mitigating factors when a card is given is not grounds for an appeal. As a matter of its discretion, as exercised by a simple majority of the members of the D/C, the D/C may agree to hear the appeal but they may also deny to hear an appeal. In any appeal that it agrees to hear, the Committee may consider certain aspects of the decision of the D/C or may conduct a hearing in de novo. The Appeal Committee/Appeal Officer may affirm, cancel, alter, diminish, or increase any sanction imposed by the initial ruling, following the provisions of World Rugby Regulation 17. A hearing or appeal decision will be communicated as outlined above for a sanction but will include participants in the hearing process and how and if due process was given.
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If a hearing is required because of a citation or because of an appeal, the parties involved will receive at least 36 hours notice of the time of the hearing (normally Wednesdays at 8 PM). They may request a copy of any reports or video prior to the hearing and have at least 24h to review. The hearing will utilize 3 members of the D/C committee not involved in the original ruling (in case of appeal) that also have no conflicts of interest in the process. During the hearing, the Chair and committee will ask all questions of parties involved, there will not be any cross examination. Admission is considered a mitigation as outlined below. The player involved, if a red card offense or citation of a player, should be on the call where possible. If a hearing is needed (in the case of a citation) it will likely be scheduled for the week following the report due date. So if the match is on a Saturday, the committee will likely hear the case the Wednesday of the next week, or approximately 11 days post-match. These calls are normally held on Wednesday evenings but may be scheduled for a different time pending availability of the committee and the chair. During the hearing, the JO/Chair/committee members ask all of the questions. No cross-examination is allowed by the parties involved. At the D/C Hearing, the D/C Chair shall read the charges against the Accused, the evidence offered in support of the charges shall be presented and the Accused shall be given the opportunity to examine the evidence and any witnesses called in support of the charges, the Accused shall be entitled to present such evidence intended to establish innocence, mitigation, or the good the character of the Accused as the Accused shall desire so long as the evidence offered is germane. The Accused may be represented by counsel or other representative and the parties will be given the opportunity to present concluding remarks. Immediately upon the conclusion of the hearing, the D/C shall deliberate and make finding of innocence or guilt with respect to each charge and shall issue the appropriate sanction for any finding of guilt. The deliberations of the D/C as to guilt or innocence are not public. Appeals on the findings of the committee can occur as outlined above.
Below is a BRIEF overview of information contained in WR 17 at the time of this publication (September 2018) that is relevant to interested parties. This information may be updated on World Rugby and the version on the World Rugby Site will prevail.
Assessment of seriousness of the Foul Play
17.19.2 Disciplinary Committees or Judicial Officers shall undertake an
assessment of the seriousness of the Player’s conduct that constitutes the
offending and categorise that conduct as being at the lower end, mid
range or top end of the scale of seriousness in order to identify the
appropriate entry point for consideration of a particular incident(s) of Foul
Play where such incident(s) is expressly covered in Appendix 1. The
assessment of the seriousness of the Player’s conduct shall be
determined by reference to the following features:
(a) whether the offending was intentional or deliberate;
(b) whether the offending was reckless, that is the Player knew
(or should have known) there was a risk of committing an act of
(c) the gravity of the Player’s actions in relation to the offending;
(d) the nature of the actions, the manner in which the offence was
committed including part of body used (for example, fist, elbow, knee
(e) the existence of provocation;
(f) whether the Player acted in retaliation and the timing of such;
(g) whether the Player acted in self-defence (that is whether he used a
reasonable degree of force in defending himself);
(h) the effect of the Player’s actions on the victim (for example, extent of
injury, removal of victim Player from the game);
(i) the effect of the Player’s actions on the Match;
(j) the vulnerability of the victim Player including part of victim’s body
involved/affected, position of the victim Player, ability to defend
(k) the level of participation in the offending and level of premeditation;
(l) whether the conduct of the offending Player was completed or
amounted to an attempt; and
(m) any other feature of the Player’s conduct in relation to or connected
with the offending.
Based on the assessment of the offence(s) under consideration against
the above features of offending, the Disciplinary Committee or Judicial
Officer shall categorise the act of Foul Play as being at the lower end, mid
range or top end of the scale of seriousness of offending and identify the
applicable entry point as set out in Appendix 1.
17.19.3 For offences categorised at the top end of the scale of seriousness of
offending, the Disciplinary Committee or Judicial Officer shall identify an
entry point between the period shown as the top end for the particular
office and the maximum sanction in Appendix 1.3
17.19.4 Having identified the applicable entry point for consideration of a particular
incident, the Disciplinary Committees or Judicial Officers shall identify any
relevant off-field aggravating factors and determine what additional period
of suspension, if any, above the applicable entry point for the offence
should apply to the case in question. Aggravating factors include:
(a) the Player’s status generally as an offender of the Laws of the
(b) the need for a deterrent to combat a pattern of offending in the
(c) any other off-field aggravating factor(s) that the Disciplinary
Committee or Judicial Officer considers relevant and appropriate.
Other aggravating factors not listed in WR that are considered by the FRU D/C and fall under item (c) include repeated offense from a single club in the course of 2 seasons and the nature of the match being played (ex how many cards may have already been given during match).
17.19.5 Thereafter, the Disciplinary Committee or Judicial Officer shall identify any
relevant off-field mitigating factors and determine if there are grounds for
reducing the period of suspension and subject to Regulations 17.19.6 and
17.19.7 the extent, if at all, by which the period of suspension should be
reduced. Mitigating factors include the following:
(a) the presence and timing of an acknowledgement of
culpability/wrong-doing by the offending Player;
(b) the Player’s disciplinary record and/or good character;
(c) the youth and inexperience of the Player;
(d) the Player’s conduct prior to and at the hearing;
(e) the Player having demonstrated remorse for his conduct to the victim
Player including the timing of such remorse; and
(f) any other off-field mitigating factor(s) that the Disciplinary Committee
or Judicial Officer considers relevant and appropriate.
17.19.6 Subject to Regulations 17.19.7 and 17.19.8, for acts of Foul Play the
Disciplinary Committee or Judicial Officer cannot apply a greater reduction
than 50% of the relevant entry point suspension.In assessing the
percentage reduction applicable for mitigating factors, the Disciplinary
Committee or Judicial Officer shall start at 0% reduction and apply the
amount, if any, to be allowed as mitigation up to the maximum 50%
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Discipline section of by-laws adopted November 2018
No later than fifteen (15) days after the Annual General Meeting, the President shall nominate the
chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee (“D/C Chair”), who is subject to confirmation by a simple
majority of the Executive Committee. (Pending the approval of any nominee, the incumbent D/C Chair
shall continue to serve.) It is preferred that the D/C Chair be a currently licensed attorney.
No later than fifteen (15) days after her confirmation, the D/C Chair shall nominate a panel of at least five (5), but no more, ten (10) people to serve on the “D/C Panel,’ which is the group of individuals from
which the members of a particular “Disciplinary Committee” that will consider particular disciplinary
matters shall be drawn. Nominees to the D/C Panel are subject to confirmation by a simple majority of
the Executive Committee, which may confirm or reject any or all of the nominees. If member clubs are
playing matches at any point in time when there are not five (5) members of the D/C Panel, including
the D/C Chair, the President shall appoint a sufficient number of individuals to D/C Panel on a temporary
basis so that there are five (5) members of the D/C Panel, including the D/C Chair. As members of the
D/C Panel are nominated and confirmed by the Executive Committee, the nominated and confirmed
members shall replace the temporary members appointed by the President. Individuals appointed to
the D/C Panel on a temporary basis by the President may be nominated and confirmed as regular
members of the D/C Panel. There are no particular requirements for membership on the D/C Panel,
except (i) the panel members should be experienced rugby people willing to fulfill the duties of
membership on the D/C, (ii) in addition to the D/C Chair, one (1) of the other panel members should
(but need not) be a licensed attorney so that such person may act as the temporary chair of the D/C
when the D/C Chair is not available to serve as chair in accordance with these By-Laws.
No person shall serve on the D/C with respect to any match in which such person participated as a
player, coach, or match official. No person shall serve on a D/C with respect to any incident that involved
incident in question.
A red card given to a player results in an automatic administrative suspension for one (1) scheduled
matches or eight (8) days after the match in which the red card is issued. For the purpose of this rule, a
scheduled match is any series of fixtures to be played by the player’s club (i) on a particular day and (ii)
which appear on the Secretary’s schedule of Union mixtures. For example, Club “X” is scheduled to field
three sides on a given Saturday. The three matches constitute a single “scheduled match,” not three (3)
separate scheduled matches. The fact that the Club may be playing these fixtures against different
opponent clubs makes no difference. If a player receives two (2) yellow cards for violence or foul play
(as opposed to the so-called “professional foul” or persistent violations of technical laws) in the same
competitive season (i.e., 7’s or 15’s), the player receives the same automatic administrative suspension
that she would have received if the second yellow card had been a red card (and the automatic
administrative suspension takes effect upon the end of the match in which the second yellow card is
given). A one day 7s tournament will count as 1 match in regards to sanctioning, and a 2 day tournament will count as two matches.
With respect to the automatic administrative sanctions described in this paragraph, there is no appeal unless there is video evidence to show there is a case of mistaken identity/card given to wrong player.
The business of the D/C and any appeals therefrom to the Committee shall be in compliance with USA Rugby Discipline Policy, which will be superceded by World Regulation 17 if there is a conflict.