THE Scottish Rugby Union has confirmed that 14 players from Howe of Fife rugby club and two officials – including Garry Horne, father of Scotland international Peter and Scotland sevens and age-grade star George – have been suspended from rugby after an initiation ceremony on a bus trip back from Jed-Forest last September resulted in a player suffering internal injuries.
Horne, who was club coach at the time, and Murdo Fraser, who was club president, were both suspended from any involvement in rugby coaching, officiating or administration for a year after “failing to exercise reasonable and proper control over the players under their supervision”.
Two Howe players have been suspended from playing for two seasons for their part in the incident. Twelve other Howe players received shorter playing bans, of between six and eight weeks.
Howe of Fife as a club will be required to ensure all office bearers, trustees, directors and players over the age of 18 attend a series of leadership workshops to improve the club’s culture.
“The behaviour of those involved in this incident, including several individuals in positions of authority at the club, was completely unacceptable,” said Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson.
“Scottish Rugby has been proactive to ensure a full, independent disciplinary process was conducted and that measures are put in place to deliver a change of culture at the club.
“The actions of those involved have absolutely no place in our sport. Significant sanctions have been applied in this matter and Scottish Rugby will not hesitate to take action against any club, official or player behaving in a similarly unacceptable manner.”
The player suspensions are being staggered over the course of the season so as the club can continue to field a team in BT National League Division Two. There has been no league points deduction but a £2000 fine has been imposed on the club.
“After full and careful consideration of all facts and circumstances the case was dealt with by way of an alternative to prosecution (Direct Measure),” said a Crown office spokesperson.
Direct measures are usually used in less serious cases when the procurator fiscal considers that prosecution may not be the most appropriate course of action – although it remains in the public interest for some sort of punishment such as a fine or a warning to be delivered.