The RFU decision to bring charges against the 13 Barbarians players who broke Covid-19 protocols last week has received mixed public support. England’s fixture with the Baa-Baas last Sunday was cancelled after it was revealed that members of the squad had breached health and safety guidance by leaving their team hotel bubble. 

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The players will now appear before an online independent disciplinary panel charged with individual breaches of the protocols (leaving the hotel without permission or without informing organisers of their whereabouts) and providing false statements during an investigation. 

Although some players have already apologised for this indiscretion, the RFU has said that it will publish the players’ names as well as the sanctions. These sanctions could be “fines and/or match bans and/or any other suitable sanction,” according to the RFU. 

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The acclaimed Inside The Barbarians RugbyPass documentary

The Barbarians players at fault came in for a lashing after the game was cancelled and were universally chastised for their irresponsibility, but this RFU decision has not been overwhelmingly supported. 

There does seem to be many on social media that agree with throwing the book at the players, albeit no one is entirely sure what that would entail. Players have, of course, been punished for off-field incidents before, but never like in these bizarre circumstances.

Given the financial ramifications of this cancelled game and the economic situation rugby finds itself in, the response from some is perhaps more intense than it usually would be. Having said that, there are those that feel this is a storm in a teacup which will only create more unnecessary controversy. The best course of action therefore should be to move on. 

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Although social media offers very little in terms of the middle ground, this does appear to be a polarising series of events. The players involved have been rebuked over the past week, and while that is clearly enough for some, others feel the punishment should be extended. 

https://twitter.com/anthonyjcook/status/1321854194547085314?s=20

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