The spate of red and yellow cards has continued in Schools Rugby which has largely gone unnoticed. However, the demand has arisen more than ever before for schools’ rugby to be vigilant about incidents or lose the next generation of players.
It is always better to be safe than to be sorry later, or to think that prevention is better than cure. Therefore, a need has arisen to implement Citing in Schools Rugby. That was the view expressed by Aruna Jayasekera, an Asian and World Rugby Judicial Officer. The process of citing is to protect the integrity of the game by presenting alleged severe acts of illegal and foul play before a Judicial Officer/Disciplinary Committee for determination.
Implementing a citing process is not an easy task when costs overshadow. Even a match day, doctor appointment is in the hands of the host school. Player welfare is in the far corner when costs are considered a prime reason.
Jayasekera said that World Rugby (WR) judiciary emphasises meting out punishment for dangerous play, particularly on head injuries. But, at the same time, it highlights the need for vigilance by the referee, the need for greater involvement and a system leading to an inquiry by the disciplinary committee.
Jayasekera said the number of injuries and red and yellow cards dropped in club rugby after introducing a citing and judicial process.
He stressed the need to take action to implement citing if the referee has missed an incident of foul play requiring a red card or Citing Commissioner Warning. Citing is a definite course of action that can be resorted. On the other hand, they may implement a team citing process if field citing is considered a cost. The incident could be reported to the disciplinary committee or a citing commissioner and then to a disciplinary committee. The method of team citing is a part of World Rugby regulations.
Jayasekera understands that the discipline in School Sports is with the Ministry. But you could improve the process by guiding and educating those in the disciplinary process and helping them fall in line with the WR process. The narrative and the reasons for the punishment and mitigation will allow the system’s integrity.
In conclusion, Jayesekera said the system involves following a World Rugby disciplinary reporting and inquiry method. A case in point, according to Jayasekera, is the drop in red and yellow cards after a judiciary process and a citing process in place during the club rugby season.
The Tournament Handbook of the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) states: All inter-school Under-19 Rugby League matches are played according to World Rugby Laws of the game and current under-19 Variation.
All disciplinary matters relating to all these tournaments shall be the Disciplinary Committee of SLSRFA, including a member of the SLR Judicial Committee. According to sources of SLSRFA, they follow the procedure.
What is essential is that the manual has a thread to World Rugby and the SLR judicial process. What is important is to coordinate the effort to improve Rugby in Sri Lanka.