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Boyd reduced to 'spectator' role after guilty plea over ref comments

By Ian Cameron

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Northampton Saints DoR Chris Boyd has been reduced to the role of ‘a spectator’ after pleading guilty to disrespecting the referee during his side’s recent Gallagher Premiership match with Saracens.

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Chris Boyd’s charge related to comments made after Northampton’s game against the North Londoners on 2 January 2022, comments which were “prejudicial to the interests of the union and the game contrary to RFU Rule 5.12.”

Boyd had been called to account for criticising the performance of referee Adam Leal. The New Zealander had said referee Leal “didn’t have enough nuts, did he?” after failing to issue a yellow card against Mark McCall’s team during a series of scrums under the posts at a stage when the match was finely poised.

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Panel chair Martin Picton said: “Chris Boyd accepted the charge. The panel concluded that the offence was to be dealt with as one amounting to disrespect of the authority of a match official and rejected the submission that the words spoken by Chris Boyd should be categorised as verbal abuse of the referee. The panel, however, took the view that as a case of disrespect it should be placed within the mid-range entry point given the nature of the words used, the number of journalists present, the inevitability that the remark made by Mr Boyd would be widely reported, the potential impact on the referee and his standing in the rugby community coupled with the importance of maintaining the core values of the game.

“The panel did, however, consider that Mr Boyd was entitled to the full available mitigation in the light of his acceptance of the charge, his obvious and genuine regret at his choice of words coupled with his apology expressed directly to the referee in question even before the potential for a misconduct charge had been raised, the impressive character material submitted in support and his impeccable discipline record. The result was that the panel imposed a two-match suspension from all match day coaching duties (meaning he can only attend as a spectator), but also directed that Mr Boyd should present to the playing and non-playing members of the club on the topic of the need for respect for match officials and that he should undertake a second presentation to a school or local rugby club of his choice so as to get the same message out at a grassroots level.”

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