Sale’s chief Diamond gets 18-week ban

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Sale executive director of sport Steve Diamond last night received an 18-week touchline ban and was fined £4,000 by the Rugby Football Union after being charged with verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes and assistants Rhys Davies and Gareth Copseyafter a 21-19 defeat by London Irish on 8 January.

Barnes had awarded the Exiles a late penalty for a scrum offence that was kicked by Adrian Jarvis.

He pleaded guilty to the charge under rule 5.12, which covers “conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union and/or game.” His ban prevents him from entering the playing enclosure, technical area, approaching match officials and communicating or attempting to communicate directly with match officials before, during and after the game on the day of the match.

The panel said: “Referees strive to do their best in a highly-pressurised environment. Wayne Barnes is acknowledged as one of the best referees in the game. Referees are entitled to respect at all times, whether the final whistle has been blown or not.”

Diamond must pay the £4,000 fine within 14 days, while his ban expires on June 20.

Leicester prop Julian White has been given a one-week ban for stamping during a 19-11 defeat by Exeter on 11 February.