Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter has been given a suspended four-week ban from match-day coaching for implied criticism of a referee, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said on Wednesday.
The former South Africa back was also ordered to make a public apology to referee David Rose and told to pay costs of £250. The ban was suspended until December 31 2010.
“This means that Mr Venter may continue to coach but if he commits any further rugby offences that suspension shall be activated in addition to any other sanction for the subsequent offence,” the RFU said in a written judgment.
If activated, the suspension would bar Venter from direct or indirect contact with his team and any match official on match days.
Venter was accused of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game for appearing to publicly criticise Rose in a BBC interview on January 2. The charge was amended at a hearing on Tuesday to implied criticism.
The RFU said Rose had found the comments “extremely offensive”.
Venter told the body he had the interests of rugby at heart and was making legitimate observations about the state of the game. He apologised “without condition” for causing offence.
“The Panel accepted that Venter did not intend to attack the integrity of the referee and he specifically said later in the interview that he did not believe that referees operating in the Guinness Premiership were dishonest,” the RFU said.
The RFU released a statement from Venter.
“I apologise unreservedly for making a statement which caused offence to David Rose,” it said.
“I firmly believe that I did not question, or intend to question, David’s integrity and any criticism which has been implied was not meant. When I said that I believed he had been influenced at halftime I did not intend that to mean that he was improperly influenced.
“I have no doubt that all referees operating in the Guinness Premiership, including David, are honest and operate without intentionally favouring one side over another.” — Reuters