Davies desperate to preserve the spirit of the game

Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee for Eastern Counties Huw Davies explains to MARK ARMSTRONG how the governing body has clamped down on some of rugby’s ills

DISCIPLINE remains at the heart of rugby’s core values at whatever level the game is played.

It underpins the sport in order to control the physical endeavours of every single player out on the pitch every Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

If the laws of the game aren’t obeyed serious injuries can occur and, talking to the Eastern Counties chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, that’s the last thing rugby’s governing bodies want to occur.

“The object has got to be to keep people playing rugby,” said Davies, who has seen the physicality of the game change immeasurably during his 12 years as chairman of the committee.

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“Rugby is a game of consensual violence but you cannot let it get out of control. It’s obviously a very physical game but if it goes beyond what’s accepted then that’s when something has to be done.

“I used to play in my younger days and you accept that certain injuries are bound to happen but gratuitous violence can’t be accepted.”

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After growing tired of the amount of disciplinary issues arising on a weekly basis, Davies and his committee decided that something needed to be done.

Power was given to the clubs to keep their own houses in order and issue sanctions in line with the RFU guidelines when players need to be disciplined.

“What we have done, and fortunately it has proved a real success, is make it the responsibility of the clubs to reprimand their players,” added Davies, who is a magistrate at Bury St Edmunds.

“If one of their players is sent off or does something he shouldn’t on the rugby field then we expect them to deal with it.”

Davies has been delighted with how the clubs have reacted to the initiative with the amount of disciplinary issues decreasing as a result of the initiative.

Clubs have realised that in order to preserve the spirit of the game that makes rugby so appealing in comparison with other sports that they needed to be proactive in their approach.

“We couldn’t have asked for more from Suffolk clubs in the take-up of this.

“At every single club there are normally around five or six people that run it and it’s about getting them and others on board. The Suffolk teams have always been very receptive to the idea.

“They can give their own sanctions in line with the RFU guidelines and we are here to offer our advice if they need any. However we hear all cases involving referee abuse and other serious cases and we also ratify the club’s sanctions.

“We want clubs to deal with their own breaches of indiscipline.”

Of course the game itself is only part of what comes under Davies and his committee’s remit.

A minority of supporters also have to be kept in check and Davies has been desperate not to allow the game to follow football’s lead in how referees are constantly barracked from the sidelines, particularly at youth level.

Davies wants parents on the sidelines, who have a loose understanding of the game’s rules, to afford referees the respect they deserve, as rugby players have for generations. Davies was a referee himself after giving up playing

“We have to be careful because when these referees get unfair and abusive criticism then it isn’t going to take long for them to ask themselves, ‘do I really need this?’

“That’s when a bigger problem could arise. Without referees there isn’t going to be any game.

“Rugby is a complicated game and I want to see referees being able to get on with their jobs without constant interference from the touchline.”

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