The disciplinary hearings for the 13 Barbarians players charged with misconduct for breaching coronavirus protocols will begin on Tuesday. The virtual proceedings conducted by an independent disciplinary panel chaired by Philip Evans QC are expected to last a number of days and could extend into the following week.
All 13 players, who will only be named once the process is completed, will face the online hearing after being charged by the Rugby Football Union with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the union or the game.
Among the charges levelled at the conclusion of a week-long RFU investigation are providing false statements and individual breaches of protocols by leaving the Barbarians’ hotel without permission.
A number of players went out on the nights of Tuesday and Wednesday before the non-cap international against England at Twickenham on October 25, resulting in the cancellation of the match.
Footage emerged on social media of Chris Robshaw, Sean Maitland, Jackson Wray, Joel Kpoku, Fergus McFadden and Manu Vunipola – among others – drinking alcohol at the Running Horse pub in Mayfair on one of the evenings.
'Coronavirus has really put the kibosh on the nights out and socialising outside the hotel'…
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 25, 2020
Robshaw and his former England teammate Richard Wigglesworth are among five players who have apologised for their misconduct. The available sanctions for a disrepute charge are wide-ranging and include fines and suspensions.
England head coach Eddie Jones said that the cancellation of the annual Barbarians fixture had turned the sport into a “laughing stock”. Clive Woodward described the players’ misconduct as “ridiculously stupid”.
The Baa-Baas cancellation story hasn't gone away https://t.co/scHQ9gGD3X
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 20, 2020
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