ERC to clamp down on discipline
September 27, 2010
ERC chief Derek McGrath has called for increased discipline © Getty Images
European rugby bosses will clamp down on player discipline during this season's Heineken Cup following talks with the IRB.
The tournament was launched at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, the venue for the final, on Monday, with European Rugby Cup chief Derek McGrath keen to stress the importance of discipline on and off the field in both the Heineken Cup and its sister tournament, the Amlin Challenge Cup.
"Although structures are very important for ERC and the tournament, we have, during the summer period, contributed to the discussions to IRB regulation 17 which governs discipline," he said.
"We have the benefit of being able to review our structures on an annual basis and we are focused on protecting the integrity of the tournaments and, through that, ensuring consistency of standards, fairness and transparency of our approach."
McGrath dismissed the idea that the move was in response to the lingering effects of 'Bloodgate' on the sport. The incident, which arose during Harlequins' Heineken Cup quarter-final loss to Leinster in 2009, has been back in focus in recent weeks following hearings for former Quins doctor Wendy Chapman and physio Steph Brennan.
"You can refer to specific cases but we have had a number of serious cases over the years," McGrath said. "This is not a comment on a specific case but a comment that, as the game grows, what is important to us is defending the integrity of the tournaments and all that is involved in it.
"It is the spine of the product we generate. We have had high-profile examples in recent times where serious cases have been brought and serious decisions have come down. Other sports are encountering disciplinary issues on and off the pitch so we need to remind ourselves that we need to learn from other sports and recognise that, if you don't protect this, then your sport and your reputation will be damaged."