It was announced today that Celtic Rugby will be introducing a centrally managed independent disciplinary process as from February 1.
This is as a result of the Magners League now being managed alongside the Six Nations and British & Irish Lions, which has provided Celtic Rugby with access to a wealth of experience and resource to enable it to manage its own independent disciplinary process.
The Celtic Rugby Board has appointed David Martin of Ireland as its first independent disciplinary chairman, and Jon Davis as it first disciplinary officer.
Martin and Davis have been part of rugby’s senior disciplinary procedures and processes for many years.
Davis, within his remit as tournament and operations director for Six Nations, is also responsible for disciplinary matters for the Six Nations Championship at senior, Under-20 and Women’s level as well as the November Tests.
As such, he can bring all that experience and understanding to bear when dealing with Magners League disciplinary matters.
It has been agreed that the structure for any panel will be that it will be chaired by a legally qualified but neutral chairman, with a further neutral ‘wingman’ and a third member who may be from one of the participating teams involved in any disciplinary action.
In the past, when disciplinary cases were handled by the Union of a player involved in a disciplinary action, there has been a view or a perception that a Union may treat one of its own more favourably than otherwise would be the case if handled independently.
There is in fact no evidence of this but Celtic Rugby recognises that Union-managed disciplinary processes can be perceived that way.
There is also a further belief that this localised process meant that some Union disciplinary processes had differing views on the level of sanction that could be applied.
Having a centralised and independent process will mean that there will be greater consistency in how Magners League disciplinary cases are conducted in the future. Above all it is an independent process and this will bring greater credibility to the Magners League tournament.
This is the first major development that Celtic Rugby has introduced since it integrated with the other rugby properties and it clearly demonstrates the rationale for this decision.
Celtic Rugby will be continuing to look at other aspects of how the game is managed in the Magners League tournament in order to carry on driving the competition to even greater heights.