Danny Cipriani escapes RFU ban - so why was he charged?
Charge of prejudicial conduct upheld despite protests, but RFU elects not to punish England star
England fly half Danny Cipriani has escaped with what The Guardian calls “a slap on the wrist” from the RFU over his nightclub fracas in Jersey and will be free to make his debut for Gloucester this week.
The rugby star was arrested and charged with common assault and resisting arrest earlier this month after an incident on a pre-season tour in the Channel Islands.
He pleaded guilty and was fined £2,000 by magistrates. His club added another £2,000 fine and ordered him to carry out ten hours community service.
Cipriani was then accused of “conduct prejudicial to the interest of the game” by the RFU, and the charge was upheld after a five-hour hearing on Wednesday.
However, “Cipriani faces no sanction other than a stern rebuke for his behaviour,” says the Guardian.
It means he can start the new season with his club and will be available for England selection this autumn.
“Cipriani, who contested the charge, will therefore be mightily relieved, having made only his first England start for ten years in June while the RFU – criticised by both Gloucester and the players’ union for intervening – emerges with little credit,” adds the paper.
Gloucester and the Rugby Players’ Association are “incensed” that the RFU got involved despite the two earlier proceedings, says The Daily Telegraph.
The governing body maintained that Cipriani had a case to answer. Yet despite upholding the charge in a hearing that lasted almost five hours longer than his 12-minute court case, they elected not to punish him further.
“Cipriani is one of the most marketable players in British rugby,” says The Times. “The flip side of his celebrity is that Cipriani’s private life has long been of interest to tabloid gossip columns and when he steps out of line it becomes big news — and the RFU charge was motivated by protecting the reputation of rugby.”
But it notes that the RFU has shown “inconsistency”. Three years ago it took no action after Manu Tuilagi admitted assaulting two police officers and was expelled from the England set up.