The Main Points


Q: What is the background?

A: The Rugby Football Union was summoned to appear before a five-man International Rugby Board disciplinary panel in Dublin last Thursday on two alleged breaches of IB bye-laws. The IB is rugby union's world governing body.

Q: What were these alleged breaches?

A: (a) That the RFU failed to take action against their 14 Premiership One clubs for playing unsanctioned fixtures against Welsh rebels Cardiff and Swansea this season. Found guilty.

(b) That the RFU did not support the IB's opposition to a European Commission submission made by the Premiership One clubs challenging IB rules. No decision.

Q: What punishments did the IB decide?

A: (a) Withholding £60,000 of an IB grant due to the RFU next month.

(b) Verdict expected next month - options include suspension, expulsion or limitless fine in World Cup year.

Q: What has been the RFU reaction?

A: Twickenham has rejected all the charges, claiming they were vague and ill-defined, while believing the disciplinary panel was biased and incorrectly constituted.

Q: Will the RFU appeal?

A: An appeal is almost certain, although no official announcement has yet been made.

Q: What is the potential fall-out?

A: If the friendlies continue, then the RFU risk further, likely six-figure IB fines next summer, although Twickenham could make these payable by the 14 Premiership One clubs, many of whom are experiencing financial difficulties.

Q: What happens next?

A: The RFU has called a meeting for today when it will discuss the current situation with Premiership One clubs.