WATSONIANS president Paul Di Rollo is to appeal a four-month ban handed down by the SRU, insisting that his altercation with match officials was nothing more than a misunderstanding.
Di Rollo, the father of Watsonians coach Marcus and skipper Ben, appeared before an SRU independent discipline panel, to answer a misconduct charge following the RBS National League match between Stewart’s-Melville FP and Watsonians on Saturday 19 October.
Watsonians lost the game 14-13 and had stand-off Mike Ker sent off. The SRU reported that Di Rollo entered the field on the final whistle to question the referee, Gary Gordon, “and persisted in so doing despite being asked to desist by match officials who reminded him of the ‘20 minutes cooling-off period’ in Scottish Rugby’s Code of Conduct”.
They further stated that he acted in an abusive and intimidating manner by pushing one of the assistant referees on the field and “treated the referee and the assistant referees in a manner which showed a lack of respect for their authority”.
Di Rollo gave The Scotsman a different account of events and said the match referee had told him that he would not be reporting the incident.
“I was not fully aware of the 20-minute rule,” said Di Rollo, “and so I accept that I was guilty of approaching the referee inside the new ‘cooling-off’ period, and I’m willing to take my punishment for that. But there was no abuse. I’d approached Gary, who I’ve spoken with often, and asked what the penalties were for because we have been giving away far too many this season. There was a misunderstanding. He thought I was questioning his decisions when I was actually looking for coaching help as I wanted to get the referee’s explanation to take back to the players before they dispersed.
“The assistant referee thought I was challenging him, and came between us, and I did place my hand on his arm. But I had no issues with Gary’s refereeing at all and we had a good chat in the club afterwards. We shook hands and Gary said that he’d been considering reporting me but finished up saying, ‘It’s fine, I accept your reasoning and will not report this’. Even at the hearing, he denied that I had shouted or sworn at him, or pushed the assistant.
“I fully support the SRU and IRB in coming down hard on anyone who abuses match officials, but to make an example of me with a 16-week ban for this is extraordinary, so I have to appeal that.”
Meanwhile, the SRU have announced that Sir Moir Lockhead will continue as Scottish Rugby Board chairman for another three-year term, from 2014-2017.
The former First Group CEO took up the reins in 2011 and has played a key role in redirecting the business alongside SRU chief executive Mark Dodson, notably in terms of improved customer relations, ticketing plans and backing for the professional teams, while dropping the union’s debt to £11.2million, its lowest figure in over a decade.
The union’s director of commercial, communications and public affairs, Dominic McKay, is also to join the board and additionally represent the SRU on the Celtic League and the European ‘FIRA/AIR’ bodies.
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