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.
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.
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.
'Coronavirus has really put the kibosh on the nights out and socialising outside the hotel'…
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 25, 2020
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.
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.
Harsh, but they need to be held to account and face the penalties. Then we should all move on, lessons learned.
— Steve Boyle (@steveboylegrfc) October 29, 2020
Good, unless they had explicit confirmation they could break the bubble then throw the book at them.
— Richie Jameson (@chefrich1980) October 29, 2020
RFU lost £1m tv revenue due to the cancellation at a time when they need every penny to save jobs etc. Pretty big repercussions for selfish and unprofessional behaviour. They were all on £9k per player match fee too – be their team mates weren’t impressed either.
— mouldy (@willmould) October 29, 2020
#baabaas #rfu have some decency, regain some respect and just drop it!!! How can the England team be allowed to go home and do who knows what? where’s the bio bubble there? Interacting with family and friends, Then charge the baabaa’s players? Utterly ridiculous!!
— David Ratcliffe (@DRatcliffeIBM) October 29, 2020
Complete over reaction. They should have tested players before the game before cancelling anything.
— Gary (@GHiiggs) October 29, 2020
I’m interested to see what happens to the players charged by the RFU. Especially as England footballers who broke the bubble appear to have escaped without a charge. Seems like an over reaction to me.
— Neil Fissler (@neilfissler) October 29, 2020
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