- World Rugby is partnering with Signify Group to protect its online community and take action against hate speech and abuse
- Core wellbeing service will operate across all match officials and teams at Rugby World Cup 2023
- World Rugby sending a clear zero-tolerance statement that online abuse will be monitored and action taken where necessary
- Wellbeing of participants a priority for World Rugby and its national unions
World Rugby has today announced that it will implement transformative measures to protect all match day officials and team squad players from online abuse during Rugby World Cup France 2023.
The move underpins World Rugby's wider commitment to promote and protect the sport’s values and Rugby World Cup 2023’s mantra as the sport’s greatest celebration of togetherness, driving positive change.
World Rugby is partnering with data science company Signify Group who will use its AI-driven Threat Matrix service to put an online protective shield around all tournament match officials, players and coaches. The service will include:
- Proactive real-time monitoring from open-source data on key platforms including X [formerly Twitter] and Instagram across the tournament
- Coverage in over 30 languages including images and emojis
- Daily reporting of abusive content and accounts to platforms to ensure appropriate action is taken
- Expedite abusive content take-down/sanctioning of account holders - where platform community guidelines are evidenced to have been broken
- Provide evidence to national associations to ban individuals from domestic and international rugby events
- Most egregious cases have the potential to be reported to relevant law enforcement agencies and an ability to unmask the worst abusers who hide behind ‘fake’ accounts.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “Rugby is a sport for everyone and we take our responsibility very seriously to make the sport as inclusive, accessible and relevant as possible. This includes sending a strong message that online hate simply will not be tolerated, tackling abuse and harmful content with meaningful action."
World Rugby Chief Communications Officer Dominic Rumbles added: “Doing everything we can to set a good example and protect players and match officials is important to World Rugby and our unions, and extending that welfare to the arena of social media is both logical and timely.
"Abuse, on or off the field, has no place in our game and today's announcement shows just how focused we are in tackling online hate aimed at the rugby family – working in partnership with proven experts Signify. This development also reflects our wider tournament goals to drive positive change and celebrate togetherness and unity; all part of a wider journey that World Rugby is very much focused on delivering.”
Jonathan Hirshler, CEO of Signify Group, said: “We are delighted to be working with World Rugby to help create a safer online space to ensure officials and players can be 100 per cent focused on their on-field responsibilities, and not be distracted and potentially harmed by vile online abuse. More and more sporting bodies are starting to take this issue seriously and it is great to be working with World Rugby where welfare is so core to its philosophy, in a sport built on respect, to drive positive change.”
Tonga centre George Moala’s appeal against the decision of a Judicial Committee to suspend him for five matches arising from an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.18 (lifting tackle) in Tonga’s Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Canada on 10 August, 2023, was heard remotely on 24 August, 2023.
The independent Appeal Committee was chaired by Christopher Quinlan KC (independent Judicial Panel Chairman), Brenda Heather-Latu (Samoa) and Judge Mike Mika (New Zealand).
The Appeal Committee dismissed the player’s appeal against the entry point of the offending. Having considered the evidence before it, the Appeal Committee found that the Judicial Committee which heard the case at first instance was entitled to find that the tackle warranted a mid-range entry point and accordingly upheld the decision of the Disciplinary Committee.
As Moala has been selected in the Tonga Rugby World Cup 2023 squad the suspension remains as imposed by the Judicial Committee and therefore the player will miss the following matches:
- Tonga v Canada – 15 August, 2023
- Clermont Auvergne v Perpignan – 26 August, 2023
- Ireland v Tonga – 16 September, 2023
- Scotland v Tonga – 24 September, 2023
- South Africa v Tonga – 1 October, 2023
The full written decision will appear here once available.
Following an initial Disciplinary Committee hearing for Owen Farrell, who received a red card during the Summer Nations Series match between England and Wales on Saturday 12th August, World Rugby lodged a formal appeal against the Committees’ decision to downgrade the red card to a yellow, appealing for the red card to be upheld.
The Appeal Committee met on Tuesday 22nd August and unanimously determined that in the original hearing the Disciplinary Committee should have considered the attempt of the player to wrap his opponent in the tackle. This point did not feature in the original decision.
The failure to attempt to wrap was judged to be an important element of the Foul Play Review Officer’s (FPRO) report and had led to an upgrading of the referee’s yellow card to a red card during the match.
As this element did not feature in the original decision, the Appeal Committee decided it was in the interests of justice to hear the case afresh on that key point alone, which included hearing from the player.
Following the review by the Appeal Committee of this key element, it was determined that the FPRO was correct in his decision leading to the red card. The Appeal Committee subsequently determined that the tackle was ‘always illegal’.
When applying the terms of World Rugby’s Head Contact Process, no mitigation can be applied to a tackle that is ‘always illegal’.
The Appeal Committee therefore considered that the Disciplinary Committee’s decision to downgrade the red card to a yellow card had been manifestly wrong, which led to the Disciplinary Committee’s decision being overturned, the appeal brought by World Rugby being allowed, and the red card upheld.
In considering sanction, the Committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head (six-matches). Taking all considerations into account, including the player’s acceptance of foul play, clear demonstration of remorse and his good character, the Committee agreed a four-match suspension.
The Appeal Committee accepted submissions on behalf of the player that the Ireland v England match on 19 August 2023, for which the player was voluntarily stood down would be included as part of the sanction. Therefore, the suspension applies to the following matches:
Ireland v England - 19 August 2023
England v Fiji - 26 August 2023
England v Argentina - 9 September 2023
England v Japan - 17 September 2023
England fly-half Owen Farrell appeared before an independent judicial committee via video link having received a red card for an act of foul play, contrary to Law 9.13, in the Summer Nations Series match between England and Wales on Saturday 12th August 2023.
Law 9.13 - A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.
The independent Judicial Committee consisting of Adam Casselden SC – Chair, John Langford and David Croft, all from Australia, heard the case, considering all the available evidence and submissions from the player and his representative.
The player acknowledged that whilst he had committed an act of foul play, he denied that the act was worthy of a red card. After reviewing all the evidence, questioning the player in detail and hearing submissions from the player’s representative, the Committee concluded that the Foul Play Review Officer was wrong, on the balance of probabilities, to upgrade the yellow card issued to the player to a red card.
The Committee determined, when applying World Rugby’s Head Contact Process, that mitigation should be applied to the high degree of danger found by the Foul Play Review Officer. The Committee found that a late change in dynamics due to England #2’s interaction in the contact area brought about a sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier. In the Committee’s opinion, this mitigation was sufficient to bring the player’s act of foul play below the red card threshold.
The Committee believe it is important to record, that no criticism is made of the Foul Play Review Officer nor, would any be warranted. Unlike the Foul Play Review Officer the Committee had the luxury of time to deliberate and consider, in private, the incident and the proper application of the Head Contact Process.
The Committee believe this is in contrast to the Foul Play Review Officer, who was required to make his decision in a matter of minutes without the benefit of all the additional material including hearing from the player and his legal representative. On that basis, the Committee did not uphold the red card and the player is free to play again immediately.
Following the Betfred Challenge Cup Final and latest Betfred Super League fixture, the Match Review Panel have issued the following sanctions:
- Elliott Minchella (Hull KR) – Grade B Other Contrary Behaviour – 1 Match Penalty Notice
- Chris Hill (Huddersfield Giants) – Grade A High Tackle – Not Applicable
- Matty Lees (St Helens) – Grade C High Tackle – 2 Match Penalty Notice
- Joe Greenwood (Huddersfield Giants) – Grade B Striking - £250 Fine
- Olly Russell (Huddersfield Giants) – Grade B Dangerous Contact - £250 Fine
The following player was handed a caution:
- Matty English (Huddersfield Giants) – Dangerous Contact
Our Safeguarding in Sport Continuous Improvement Program provides a nationally consistent approach to child safeguarding in sport.
The program was developed by Sport Integrity Australia with the help of some National Sport Organisations who were part of a pilot program over a six-month period.
Sport Integrity Australia Director of Safeguarding Lisa Purves said the purpose of the pilot program was to develop a robust audit framework to support the implementation of the program.
“Sport Integrity Australia recognises the significant work that has been completed by Gymnastics, Rugby and Equestrian since the pilot program concluded,” Ms Purves said. “All three sports have made significant strides in their safeguarding journey.
“Their practical insights and context provided valuable feedback which have shaped the final program design.”
She said key learnings and insights were gathered from the pilot sports.
Critically, the pilot sports identified key resources required for the sector, including the Child Safety Risk Management and Guide, Safeguarding Risk Identification Library and the Third-Party Contractor Guide.
Sport Integrity Australia is currently finalising these child safe risk management tools, which will be made available to all sports towards the end of 2023.
At the conclusion of the pilot program, three sports – Gymnastics Australia, Rugby Australia and Equestrian Australia – have continued to work with Sport Integrity Australia to develop their Recognise Phase Action Plans aimed at maturing their member protection and child safeguarding practices.
Sport Integrity Australia also congratulates the following sports who have since signed up to the program, demonstrating a commitment providing a safe sport environment for their members: AusCycling, Basketball Australia, DanceSport Australia, Disability Sports Australia, Disabled Winter Sports Australia, Netball Australia, Orienteering Australia, Pony Club Australia, Softball Australia, Squash Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia, Swimming Australia, Triathlon Australia and Volleyball Australia.
New Zealand's Scott Barrett appeared before an independent Judicial Committee on Monday, 28 August having received a red card in New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup 2023 warm-up match against South Africa on 25 August 2023. The red card was awarded following the receipt of two yellow cards.
The independent Disciplinary Committee was chaired by Sir James Dingemans (England), joined by former international player Olly Kohn (Wales) and former referee Valeriu Toma (Romania).
The Committee found that Appendix 4 of Regulation 17 requires the Judicial Committee to apply a sanction for the offence of persistent offending, not for the substantive offences relating to each yellow card (see Regulation 17, Appendix 4, at B.1).
The full written decision can be found here.
Appendix 4 at B 2(c) provides that: “The … judicial committee may decide that sending off was sufficient … in the following circumstances … (c) any of the temporary suspensions were awarded for so-called technical offences (including following a team warning) not involving a breach of laws 9.11 to 9.28 inclusive.”
The independent Judicial Committee found that sending off was a sufficient sanction in this case because the player was sent off for two yellow cards (referred to as temporary suspensions in the appendix), and the first of those yellow cards was for a technical offence following a team warning.
The player has the right of appeal within 48 hours of the issuing of the full written decision, which will appear here once published.
Click here to watch the video that explains how rugby’s disciplinary process works.
Visit World Rugby’s dedicated disciplinary process education and information page here.
England number 8, Billy Vunipola, appeared before an independent judicial committee via video link having [received a red card/been cited] for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 (A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously.
Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.) in the Summer Nations Series match between Ireland and
The independent Judicial Committee consisting of Roddy Dunlop KC – Chair (Scotland), Frank Hadden (Scotland) and Jamie Corsi (Wales) heard the case, considering all the available evidence and submissions from the player and his representative.
The player admitted that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card.
On that basis, the Committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head. This resulted in a starting point of a six week suspension.
Having acknowledged mitigating factors including his exemplary previous record, immediate apology and remorse, and noted the absence of any aggravating factors, the committee reduced the six week entry point by three weeks, resulting in a sanction of three weeks (to be served as the following given the player’s upcoming schedule):
England v Fiji - 26 August 2023
England v Argentina - 9 September 2023
England v Japan - 17 September 2023
The Player may apply to take part in the Coaching Intervention Programme to substitute the final match of his/her sanction for a coaching intervention aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play.
UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has confirmed that Rugby League player Ryan Snowden has been banned from all sport for a period of three years, following first Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) for the Use and Presence of Prohibited Substances in his urine Sample.
On 13 December 2022, UKAD collected an Out-of-Competition urine Sample from Mr Snowden at a Batley Bulldogs RLFC squad test. Analysis of Mr Snowden’s urine Sample returned Adverse Analytical Findings (AAFs) for ostarine (enobosarm) and clenbuterol.
Ostarine and clenbuterol are listed under section 1.2 of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 2022 Prohibited List as Anabolic Agents. They are non-Specified Substances that are prohibited at all times.
On 10 February 2023, UKAD notified Mr Snowden that he may have committed ADRVs pursuant to Article 2.1 (Presence of a Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers in an Athlete’s Sample) and 2.2 (Use or Attempted Use of a Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method) of the 2021 UK Anti-Doping Rules (ADR), and provisionally suspended him from that date.
Mr Snowden responded to UKAD’s Notice letter on 16 March 2023 admitting the ADRVs, explaining that he had taken a supplement that contained the Prohibited Substances.
UKAD charged Mr Snowden with both ADRVs on 05 April 2023, which Mr Snowden promptly accepted.
In accordance with ADR Article 10.8.1, Mr Snowden was able to reduce the four-year asserted period of Ineligibility to three years, after admitting the violations and accepting the asserted period of Ineligibility within twenty days of the Charge Letter.
Mr Snowden’s three-year ban from all WADA Code-complaint sport commenced on 10 February 2023 and will expire at midnight on 09 February 2026.
Speaking on the case, Hamish Coffey, UKAD’s Director of Operations said: “There is no place for anabolic steroids in sport and there are serious consequences for athletes caught taking them.
It is important that all athletes follow the Anti-Doping Rules and understand the risks associated with using supplements.”
Commission on preliminary consideration of anti-doping rules violations of RAA RUSADA rendered the decision that made athlete Smirnov Andrey (rugby) ineligible for 5 years for violation under cl. 4.1 and cl. 4.2 of the All-Russian Anti-Doping Rules. The period of ineligibility is commencing on the date of the decision, namely on July 31, 2023, with credit for the served period of provisional suspension, namely from July 6, 2023.
Jorge Taufua of Bradford Bulls has been suspended for six matches and fined £375 after being found guilty of a Grade E charge of contrary behaviour in the Betfred Championship match against Barrow Raiders.
Taufua had been charged with a Grade F offence by the Match Review Panel, with the Operational Rules Tribunal delayed for logistical reasons.
The Tribunal found him guilty, but of a Grade E rather than Grade F offence.