16 banned from rugby over ‘initiation’ on Fife club’s team bus

Howe of Fife RFC.
Howe of Fife RFC.
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Two officials and 14 players from Howe of Fife Rugby Club have been suspended by the sport’s governing body following an investigation into an “initiation ceremony” on the team bus last season.

The overall punishment is believed to be the most extensive in Scottish rugby history.

Garry Horne, the Cupar club’s former head coach and father of Scotland international Peter Horne, has been banned from coaching for a year by the Scottish Rugby Union.

Murdo Fraser, the club’s former president, has also been suspended for 12 months.

The pair’s bans cover any involvement in rugby coaching, officiating or administration.

They are accused by the SRU of “failing to exercise reasonable and proper control over the players under their supervision”.

Two Howe players have been suspended from playing for two seasons (84 weeks) for their part in the incident.

Twelve other Howe players received shorter playing bans, of between six and eight weeks.

Last September, two club members were arrested and charged with sexual assault following the incident, which was allegedly part of an “initiation ceremony” that took place as the bus travelled between venues.

The case did not go to court.

Instead it was made an “alternative to prosecution (direct measure)”.

Both Horne and Fraser resigned in June after the SRU launched a formal investigation into allegations of misconduct.

Players Angus Guthrie and Robert Douglas have received two-year bans, while 12 others from the club have been been given the shorter suspensions. Reports of the incident suggest that a member of the team had to receive hospital treatment as a result of the “initiation” incident.

Howe of Fife are currently in National League Division 2 and are one of the most successful clubs in the country at nurturing young talent.

As well as 25-times capped Peter Horne, the club also helped develop fellow Scotland international Chris Fusaro.

The SRU statement said: “Howe of Fife as a club will be required to ensure all office bearers, trustees, directors and players over the age of 18 attend a series of leadership workshops to improve the club’s culture. A fine has also been applied against the club.”

SRU chief executive Mark Dodson said: “The behaviour of those involved, including several individuals in positions of authority, was completely unacceptable.” No-one from Howe of Fife was available for comment