Scottish Rugby fined £70,000 and told to apologise after World Cup fall-out

An indepndent disciplinary panel has found that comments by Chief Executive Mark Dodson and other representatives constituted misconduct

Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

THE SCOTTISH RUGBY UNION has been formally reprimanded, told to apologise [within 48 hours] and fined £70,000, for comments made in the media in response to the threat of the national team’s vital World Cup pool match against Japan last month being cancelled due to the impact of Typhoon Hagibis.

Scottish Rugby, who disputed the appropriateness of the charges when they were first brought by World Rugby, have suggested that they will not take the judgement lying down, stating in a tweet that:

RWC2019 | received the Independent Disputes Committee ruling from World Rugby this morning. We will now reflect on this outcome and further consider all our options, which may include arbitration.

A statement issued at lunchtime today by World Rugby, the global game’s governing body, read:

An Independent Disputes Committee has found that comments made by Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) representatives in relation to the potential impact of Typhoon Hagibis on Scotland’s Rugby World Cup 2019 Pool A match against Japan constituted misconduct

The committee was chaired by Christopher Quinlan QC (England), together with Adam Casselden SC (Australia) and Nigel Hampton QC (New Zealand).

Two charges were brought by World Rugby (under Rugby World Cup Limited) in line with the Rugby World Cup 2019 Terms of Participation and World Rugby Regulation 20.2 (Misconduct and Code of Conduct):

Comments made by Mark Dodson in the UK Telegraph newspaper, the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, and at the Scotland team announcement on 11 October 2019.

Comments attributed to an SRU spokesperson in the UK Telegraph newspaper on 10 October 2019 and the SRU’s Counsel Nick De Marco QC in the UK The Sun newspaper on 11 October 2019 and the UK Telegraph newspaper on 12 October 2019.

World Rugby strongly believed the comments, which suggested an unfair and disorganised treatment of all teams, to be inappropriate and ill-judged at a time when Japan was preparing for the largest and most destructive typhoon in decades.

The international federation believed that such comments brought the game into disrepute, not only in relation to World Rugby’s handling of an extraordinary situation but also in the message that it sent to the Japanese people.

Having considered all the evidence, including submissions by World Rugby and the SRU, the committee determined in respect of the first charge that comments attributed to Mark Dodson amounted to misconduct and brought the game into disrepute.

In respect of the second charge, the available evidence was insufficient for the committee to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities as to the source of the offending remarks and therefore it dismissed the charge.

Having determined clear misconduct, the committee handed down the following sanction:

  • The SRU is formally reprimanded for its conduct
  • The SRU is formally reprimanded for its conduct
  • The SRU should issue in writing a meaningful apology to World Rugby and RWCL for its misconduct in terms approved by the committee
  • The SRU is fined the sum of £70,000

The committee also notes that the fine will be donated to the Childfund Pass it Back programme on World Rugby’s instruction, assisting with the ongoing relief effort in areas affected by Typhoon Hagibis.

Prior to its decision, the committee gave the parties ample time to resolve the dispute. World Rugby made an open offer to the SRU which required the SRU to apologise for its conduct and make a donation to the Typhoon disaster relief fund in Japan. The SRU suggested alternative wording which included a mutual expression of regret from both parties, and no apology.

More to follow.


Scotland face disciplinary action over response to match cancellation threat

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 1552 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

8 Comments

  1. “We are sorry for pointing out both the folly of holding a major sporting event during hurricane season as well as the inadequate contingency plans for matches cancelled due to eminently foreseeable hurricanes.

    Love,

    The SRU”

  2. Why on earth can’t he just admit he was out of order, apologise, and get on with sorting out how to get Scotland and Rugby back on track

  3. I wonder whether holding the Rugby World Cup during the typhoon season without adequate contingency planning might be considered misconduct and bringing the game into disrepute.

    • well
      Not having the contingencies it said it had
      Telling Ireland a week earlier their game would be moved hen telling the est that was not possible or allowed
      Having a contingency of moving a game 14miles to avoid a typhoon

      and a few other issues might be thought to bring the game into disrepute. And indicate a case for summary dismissal for gross incompetence and lying. Not things World Rugby are keen to expose, hence the heavy handedness and attempt to shut the SRU up

    • The unspoken contingency plan (link below) was published in 2017, the stadium area is intended to flood by design as part of a sacrificial flood reservoir to protect Yokohama, the report shows the stadium flooded in 2014. By design and intent there was a high probability of the match being cancelled. Now Scotland are being fined for noticing the deceit and only if they are stupid enough they will pay the fine. The evidence shows that force majeure was inapplicable “unforeseeable circumstances” hardly apples when flooding was the intent.

      https://programme.worldwaterweek.org/Content/ProposalResources/PDF/2017/pdf-2017-7137-4-Japan%20Project%20Brief_Tsurumi.pdf

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