Bath Rugby’s Anthony Watson appeared before an independent disciplinary panel last week in relation to a charge that came about from a tweet he made on a referee’s decision.
Watson, who injured his knee the week prior to the incident, tweeted his disagreement to his 53,000 plus followers after teammate, Mike Williams was red-carded against Wasps on 30 October 2021
Williams had flown into a ruck and was deemed to have done so in a dangerous manner, leading to a straight red card shown by the referee.
Watson, watching on while icing his knee (in his own words), tweeted his dismay, stating that Williams had little option to wrap.
Watson was charged with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union and/or The Game, contrary to RFU Rule 5.12.
He accepted the charge and was given a one-week suspension by the independent disciplinary panel. That one-week ban is suspended until the end of the 2022/23 season. He was also required to pay the costs of the hearing to the sum of £500.
Watson is required to prepare and deliver a presentation to the Senior Squad, the Academy Squad, and the Rugby Department at Bath Rugby, by 14 January 2022.
View the red card incident below
Watson’s testimony explained his state of mind and reasoning at the time:
“On the 30th October I was sat at home icing my knee when I decided to upload a tweet questioning the decision of the referee in a game concerning both my club and teammate.
I would like to record my remorse for my actions, it was never my intention to bring the game into disrepute and my ignorance surrounding the matter is not acceptable.
My actions cannot be explained simply by shifting the blame or placing extreme emphasis on my circumstances, I understand I must be accountable for my actions.
However, contextually I believe it’s important to understand how difficult the past month or so has been for me.
A week prior to this game I suffered a potentially season ending knee injury, which alone is not the easiest thing to deal with.
However, when coupled with the fact that a mere 2 years ago I spent 13 months on the side- line watching my team and rehabilitating a double ruptured Achilles – can explain some level of the frustration I am feeling.
I am unable to contribute to my team in the most constructive manner I know how. This is further exacerbated when you analyse the poor start to the season my club has had, and the personal desperation for my club to win games and succeed.
Whilst again, I will emphasise that none of this goes a way to explain my actions, I would like the context of my personal situation to be understood.
In addition to this, my tweet remained uploaded until the 9th November, purely because I did not want to interfere with the process of the disciplinary (I was notified on the 1st so had ample time to delete) – this was not by any means not deleted due to hard headedness. I deleted it on the 9th November, when the disciplinary hearing had scheduled a date and everything was formalised.
It was also done prior to any media outlets being notified to stop any unnecessary press activity.
Once again, I am deeply sorry for my actions, it is not something that will happen again.”
The Bath and England back has the right of appeal against the decision. It must be lodged with the RFU within 14 days of the date the judgment was delivered.
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