Brendan Venter, the Saracens Director of Rugby, appeared before an independent Disciplinary Committee in Dublin today (Thursday, 4 November) as the result of a misconduct complaint lodged against him by ERC following the Round 2 Heineken Cup Pool 2 match between Saracens and Leinster at Wembley Stadium, on 16 October, 2010.
The misconduct complaint was that Mr Venter made a number of comments to media representatives in which he brought into disrepute ERC, the tournament, the match officials and/or the sport of rugby union.
The independent Disciplinary Committee was made up of Jean-Noël Couraud (France, Chairman), Antony Davies (England) and Pat Barriscale (Ireland).
Mr Venter, who pleaded not guilty to the misconduct complaint, was accompanied at the hearing by Saracens Chief Executive, Edward Griffiths.
After considering the evidence and hearing submissions on behalf of Mr Venter and on behalf of Roger O'Connor, ERC's Disciplinary Officer, the independent Disciplinary Committee found that Mr Venter was guilty of misconduct in that he had been inappropriately critical of ERC, the tournament, the match officials and the sport of rugby union, and imposed a fine of €25,000.
However, the Committee decided that €15,000 of the €25,000 fine would be suspended until 30 June 2012, and would be payable only if Mr Venter is found guilty of further acts of misconduct arising from ERC tournaments before that date.
The Committee concluded that Mr Venter's comments to media representatives were contrary to the 2010/11 Heineken Cup Participation Agreement, and it commented that in the future, the appropriate channels should be used for any communication on such matters.
a) The independent Disciplinary Committees are chosen by the Chairman of the independent Disciplinary Panel, Professor Lorne Crerar
b) For the first time, a three-person independent Disciplinary Committee included one representative of the country of the party against whom the charge had been made
c) ERC Disciplinary Officer, Roger O'Connor, presents the cases against the club / individual
d) Both parties to the hearing (ERC and the club / individual) have the right to appeal decisions of the independent Disciplinary Committee. Appeals must be lodged within three working days of receiving the full written decision from the Chairman of the independent Disciplinary Committee
e) The full written decision of the independent Disciplinary Committee will be available on http://www.ercrugby.com/disciplinenewswhen the disciplinary process is complete
The directors of ERC voted unanimously at a Board meeting to postpone all decisions including the release of further instalments of ERC's distributable central revenues to the six shareholder countries until 19 February next when the Board will meet again to reconsider the issue.