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Further Info on Match Official Abuse

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

Below is the contents of an email received from David Barnes of the RFU concerning Match Official Abuse. The links within the email do appear to work. The document referred to in red is attached and is the same as perviously published.

Dear All,

I hope that you all have had a good summer and those of you who are already back on the field are enjoying the new season.

I am very grateful for 1200 of your members taking the time to give valuable feedback through the Match Official Abuse (MOA) survey that was conducted last season. The data has been invaluable for shaping the direction of travel for the RFU and CB discipline teams and I am sure this will help further strengthen the alignment between two crucial parts of our game.

As you will have seen from the survey report, just under 50% of MO’s felt they had been abused in the previous season. This is clearly extremely concerning, as is the fact that only 37% of cases were being reported. Whilst it must be seen as a positive that many MO’s didn’t report the abuse due to the issue being appropriately resolved at the time, there were a number of concerns about the disciplinary process, including the length of sanction and communication of decisions, that needed to be addressed.

As part of the MOA Survey report (attached) I listed 6 recommendations coming out of the report and I wanted to update you on the progress that has been made over the last few months in relation to each point;



Increased sanctions for MOA cases

​The World Rugby sanction table remains unchanged however we are working with all discipline panels on how to appropriately categorise and sanction cases of MOA. It is expected that after this work many MAO cases may be considered at a higher entry point. You may have seen RFU judgments from last season where the higher approach to sanctions was put forward.

CB training continues into September and a key part of that training is on dealing with MOA cases.

Separate to the RFU, a number of CB’s have notified their clubs that MOA cases will be aggravated by a set number of weeks.

Any abuse of an YMO should now result in a minimum of a mid-range sanction in its respective category.

Publication of MOA judgments

The RFU already publishes all judgments in full (here).

The RFU website will now list details of ALL CB MOA cases and include the names of individuals concerned and the sanctions issued. (This page can be found here)

We will continue to encourage all CB’s to publish case outcomes on their own websites.

All Ref societies should receive a copy of any MOA judgment at the same time as the person charged.

This further sharing of information will help with greater alignment across the game.

Support of the MO during the discipline process

It Is clear that the MO needs to be supported better in the discipline process at all levels of the game. This will be addressed in the upcoming discipline training sessions.

Recent RFU cases have asked the MO for a victim impact statement and this will be encouraged at all levels.

Definitions of levels of MOA

Attached to this email is a new document that helps define the various levels of MOA. This is being sent to all Ref societies and all discipline panels. It will also be published on the RFU website and made available to all clubs.

Address behaviours within pro game

There was already a lot of unseen work happening in this area but it has been agreed that we will start to talk more about the work that takes place in the professional game.

The MOA survey summary has been presented to all the top leagues and clubs have been made aware that the RFU will be taking a stronger stance in relation to MOA this season.

Presentations have also been made to the National Panel refs and the PGMOT refs on the impact of MOA within the game. Everyone is very aware of the impact that the Pro game has on the rest of the game and Core Values will be a focus this season.

Stronger sanctions for people entering the field

A new regulation 19.5.5 now allows the immediate suspension of individuals who enter the field without permission. This will be communicated to the whole game and it is hoped will have a further deterrent effect.

A discipline update will shortly go out to all RFU clubs that will also reaffirm the RFU stance on MOA. Players, Coaches and club officials will be given access to the attached documents and put on notice that the RFU will be taking a strong stance on MOA.

The new RFU President, Nigel Gillingham, has stated that Core Values will be a key focus of his year and a wider RFU Core Values campaign is expected over the next few months.

As mentioned above, attached to this email is a document that has been created to assist all members with how to define MOA. This document, put together with much help from Kingsley Hyland (Northumberland CB disc.), John Pearson and Roger Bowden, amongst others, will help provide greater alignment between MO’s and discipline. This document will also be sent to all clubs and posted on the RFU website.

I have been very fortunate to have had the support and guidance of many of your members over the last few months and I would value any further feedback that you may have on the MOA guidance or any other aspect of this email.

I will aim to provide a further update after the various regional CB discipline meetings that are taking place in September but please contact me it you would like any more information before that.

I hope you all have an enjoyable season ahead.


RFU MOA Survey (May2022)
Download PDF • 170KB

RFU MOA Guidance 2022-23(v.1)
Download PDF • 267KB


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