It is becoming increasingly likely that you will have to send a player off at some time in your refereeing career. Therefore, you should prepare yourself for the event. If you do send someone off, you MUST ALWAYS report it.
A Disciplinary Panel has powers to inquire into and inflict punishment where a player has been dismissed from the field of play by the referee or cited for foul play or has been reported for misconduct in the playing enclosure (i.e. incidents that take place before and after the final whistle are also reportable). Please also note that this includes abuse of the referee returning from the pitch to the clubhouse after a match.
On the Pitch and After the Game.
At the time of the incident, and in the immediate aftermath (half time or full time in the changing room), it is advisable to make notes about the incident (player’s name, number, the location on pitch, time, score at the time of the incident, any apology from the player in question). The back of your scorecard is a good place to write these down.
Do not discuss details regarding a sending off with coaches and players during the game or in the bar after the game, ask for them to await your report.
It is advisable to message (either email or text) the Honorary Secretary to let them know there has been a sending off. In this message it is advisable to include the name of the player and the club.
Writing the Report
A sending off report now needs to be completed following the game. Note that the sending off report must be completed and dispatched to the appropriate Constituent Body or Bodies or the RFU within 48 hours. Copies of report forms can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary. Alternatively, you can download a form from the Society’s or the RFU websites.
Following completion of the form, send it to the Honorary Secretary: firstname.lastname@example.org who will then forward to the appropriate Constituent Body; this should all happen within 48 hours of the sending off. (Note that failure to do this may result in the Society incurring a fine).
Report Writing Guidelines
The following guidelines are intended to assist you to prepare your report satisfactorily.
- The form should be filled in whilst the facts of the incident are fresh in your mind. Take care in completing the front page of the report, in particular, the full name(s) of the player(s) involved which you should get confirmed by a Club official after the game.
- The prime purpose of your report is to give the Disciplinary Panel a clear picture of the relevant facts leading up to, during and after the incident. Be clear in your own mind what happened and convey that clarity to the Panel. The report is read out to the Panel, so avoid long and complex explanations.
- It is not necessary to provide a lengthy description of the incident if the facts are straightforward. Avoid vagueness. Be clear. For example, instead of saying “he struck an opponent several times” you should say how many times, where the blows landed, how violent they were and whether they caused an injury. Mention whether “the victim” required medical treatment and carried on playing or whether there was provocation.
- You must provide a fair and balanced account and not seek to secure a conviction in every case. It is not weakness to mention any mitigating factor or to admit that you may not have seen something prior to the incident which led up to it or, on reflection, to consider that you acted too hastily in sending the player off.
- If you require assistance or are unsure, we recommend that you send your report to an experienced colleague before you dispatch it so that any possible ambiguity or omissions can be identified (and any questions anticipated). The Honorary Secretary will also check through reports before forwarding on to the Constituent Body Disciplinary Secretary. These precautions should avoid the necessity for the Constituent Body Disciplinary Secretary to seek clarification from you.
- You should never advise the Disciplinary Panel about what it should do about the report. Never use such phrases as “I think the sending off was sufficient”.
- Clarity and brevity are essential for a good report. Seek advice if you have any doubt about what to say or about the administrative procedures. Senior society members and the Hon Secretary are available to help. If you are satisfied that you were right to send the player off, be content with that and do not concern yourself about the level of punishment imposed. You have done your job.