RFU sanctions 13 Barbarians for bubble breach at London pub

The RFU has announced a series of fines and suspensions at the conclusion of its disciplinary into members of the Barbarians team who broke Covid-19 protocols and forced the cancellation of their fixture at Twickenham against England on October 25.

Former England captain Chris Robshaw and scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth have been most heavily sanctioned, as a total of 13 players received a combined 85 weeks of match bans, fined 18.5 weeks of salary, and given 630 hours of community service.

Robshaw, whose representation for the Barbarians would have been his last in English rugby before departing for Major League Rugby, has been handed a four-week ban and two-week fine, with an additional four-weeks suspended. The same sanction given to Wigglesworth, now of Leicester Tigers.

Alex Lewington, Fergus McFadden, Juan Pablo Socino, Chris Robshaw, Richard Wigglesworth, Jackson Wray, Calum Clark, Sean Maitland, Tim Swinson, Tom de Glanville, Joel Kpoku, Manu Vunipola and Simon Kerrod have all accepted the charges and been given lesser sanctions, which also included half of their ban lengths being suspended.

All players, bar Kerrod, will undertake between 50-60 hours of community service separate to what they already do with their respective clubs.

An RFU statement said: “An independent disciplinary panel chaired by Philip Evans QC has today published its judgment on the hearing of 13 players within the Barbarian FC camp charged by the RFU following breaches of the Covid Code of Conduct under Rule 5.12: conduct prejudicial to the interests of the union or game.

“The breaches which included misleading the investigation led to the cancelation of the England v Barbarians fixture scheduled for Sunday 25 October due to concerns over the health risk to other Barbarian players and management as well as the potential risk to other teams and the integrity of the Autumn Nations tournament.”

The cancellation of the match came after a number of players were pictured at a London pub on the Tuesday prior to the clash with England taking place, while another breach was also unearthed during the RFU’s initial probe into the first ‘bubble’ breach.’

It was the fixture that would have kicked off England’s autumn schedule and given head coach Eddie Jones a chance to get his players match-ready for their trip to face Italy in the Six Nations with the title on the line.

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