Venter hit with touchline ban
May 18, 2010
Saracens boss Brendan Venter will be consigned to the stands for the Guinness Premiership final © Getty Images
Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter has been cleared of pushing a female fan during the Guinness Premiership clash with Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on May 8 but has landed a 14-week touchline ban after being found guilty of making provocative gestures towards the crowd in the same game.
Venter was hit with a ten-week ban for the gestures, with the additional four weeks the result of Rugby Football Union disciplinary chief Judge Jeff Blackett's decision to activate an outstanding suspended sentence the South African was given for criticising referees earlier in the season.
Regarding the findings of the RFU panel, Judge Blackett explained that Venter's clash with a Leicester fan had been found to have been "accidental". However, it was decided that Venter had behaved inappropriately towards the crowd during the game.
"We were disappointed that he didn't understand the seriousness of what occurred and his behaviour was clearly unacceptable in provoking a reaction from the Leicester supporters which required steward intervention and, even after that intervention, he continued making provocative gestures," Blackett commented.
"This type of behaviour is totally unacceptable in rugby and we reminded him of the core values of the sport, which include respect for the opposition in all its forms."
However, Saracens chief executive Ed Griffiths quickly confirmed that the club intends to appeal the touchline ban in the hope that Venter will be free to take his place in the dugout for Saturday week's Guinness Premiership final with Leicester - and also hit out at the RFU for even charging Venter for pushing the supporter in the first place.
"The charge was summarily dismissed by Jeff Blackett, although we will still be asking the RFU to explain why they levelled and publicised the charge before giving either Brendan or the club the chance to offer our version of events. This process needs to be revised," he said.
"The tribunal found Venter guilty of conduct prejudicial to the image of the game, and imposed a 14-week touchline ban. In essence, Brendan stood up to follow play during the match at Leicester because he was given a seat with a restricted view, half a dozen Leicester supporters complained and this has now resulted in a substantial touchline ban, which may keep him away from the team on the day of the Premiership final. We will immediately appeal against this decision, and the RFU have indicated the appeal will be heard before the final.
"The RFU rightly upholds the core values of the sport, which include respect for the opposition at all times," added Griffiths. "Where was the respect for Brendan? He is given a seat with a restricted view, he stands only so he can see what is happening on the field and he is abused by home supporters.
"In response, he does not swear at anybody, he does not make an obscene gesture at anybody, he does not lose his temper - and yet is now denied the right to coach his team at the final. We will appeal against the verdict and sentence as soon as possible."