RFU charge 13 Barbarians players with ‘providing false statements’ after Chris Robshaw and team-mates breached Covid rules TWICE to go to Mayfair pub and have squad dinner
- Thirteen Barbarians players have been charged for breaching Covid-19 protocol
- The Rugby Football Union will require those players to face a disciplinary panel
- Players will have to answer charges after they breached RFU rule 5.2 in going out
- One night involved a drinking session at the Running Horse pub in Mayfair
- The rule-breaches resulted in the England game last Sunday being cancelled
The Barbarians who broke strict Covid protocols have been charged with ‘providing false statements’ after their pub visits forced the cancellation of last Sunday’s England game.
Thirteen players, including former England captain Chris Robshaw, have been called before an independent RFU disciplinary panel following their costly nights out in Mayfair.
The RFU promised to name and shame any guilty party with full written judgements — as well as imposing sanctions that could include fines or bans.
Footage showed Barbarians players breaking coronavirus rules, including Chris Robshaw (left)
The two nights out resulted in the cancellation of last Sunday’s game against England
Eddie Jones has told his England players that they have a duty to drag rugby’s reputation out of the gutter following the fiasco.
Preparations for Saturday’s Six Nations finale against Italy were rocked by the cancellation of the Twickenham curtain- raiser, with England going into the game without having played since March.
However, they are strong favourites to beat the Italians and could clinch the title, which Jones believes would help restore some pride in the sport.
‘We understand that rugby at the moment is a bit of a laughing stock and we all love the game,’ said Jones. ‘We are lucky enough to play the game at the highest level and we want to make sure we put the game back where it needs to be. We understand both of those responsibilities and it is a weight that we enjoy carrying.
The trip to the pub took place the night before Robshaw and 11 others dined out in a restaurant
‘We have a great game in rugby and we don’t like to see it be portrayed as something that is not a serious sport, as it has been.
‘No one likes to see a game called off because of a breakdown in the protocols in society at the moment. That’s what happened. It is not good for rugby but we have got an opportunity to turn that around.’ Jones compared the situation to the ball-tampering scandal that brought Australian cricket to its knees in 2018.
‘History shows that sport changes quickly,’ added the head coach.
‘If you look at the situation with the Australian cricket team and the sandpaper, that time was not a great time for cricket and it was not a great time for Australian cricket. ‘Now people have forgotten that and it is our responsibility to put on a performance so that people don’t remember what happened from a couple of weeks ago.’
England were forced to go into their Six Nations finale without having had a proper run out
Richard Wigglesworth (centre) was another Barbarians player among those to go for dinner
Despite missing seven players who started in England’s last Six Nations game against Wales in March, Jones named just one debutant in his starting XV, in Exeter lock Jonny Hill.
Ben Youngs will earn his 100th cap at scrum-half, and Owen Farrell will captain the side from No 10 in his first game back from a five-week suspension.
Farrell echoed Jones’ sentiment about rebuilding rugby’s image.
‘All I can say is that we as players understand the fortunate position we are in at the moment; to be able to do what we love every day and to be out there together getting to play a game at the end of the week,’ he said.
‘We are unbelievably excited about that and the thing we want to show is how much we love playing for England.
‘Hopefully that feeds through to everybody at home.’
Meanwhile, the Rugby Football Union has reported an operating loss of £10.8million for 2019-20. The annual report doesn’t, however, detail the full effect of coronavirus as the accounts only run up to June 30 this year. The RFU has subsequently warned of a possible £145m in lost revenue.