Sean Maitland and Tim Swinson among 13 banned for Barbarians pub trip Covid breaches
Scotland winger Sean Maitland and his former international team-mate Tim Swinson are among 13 players banned for breaching coronavirus protocols while on duty with the Barbarians.
The 13 were sanctioned by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) on Tuesday for their actions ahead of the game against England at Twickenham on October 25, which resulted in the cancellation of the match.
England head coach Eddie Jones said that the cancellation of the annual fixture, which cost the RFU around £1 million in lost revenue, had turned the game into a “laughing stock”.
Footage had emerged on social media of Barbarians players drinking in a Mayfair pub and it later transpired that some of those who broke Covid-19 regulations provided false statements during the RFU’s investigation.
All 13 players accepted the charges of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the union or the game, with the sanctions determined by the severity of the breaches.
The players were split into four groups with six – Chris Robshaw, Alex Lewington, Fergus McFadden, Juan Pablo Socino, Richard Wigglesworth and Jackson Wray – banned for for four weeks for going out on both October 20 and 21 and then providing a false account about their movements on October 21.
Lewington, Robshaw, Wigglesworth and Wray must also conduct 50 hours of unpaid rugby community work, while that figure is 60 hours for McFadden and Socino.
All bar McFadden have also been fined two weeks' wages.
Saracens trio Maitland, former Scotland international Swinson and Calum Clark were sanctioned for going out only on October 21 and then giving a false account. They received a four-week ban - three of which are suspended. Tom de Glanville, Joel Kpoku and Manu Vunipola were given three-week suspensions, and Simon Kerrod got a two-week ban.
Kerrod was fined a week’s wages for going out only on October 20. He did not provide a false account.
Prior to joining the Barbarians camp, the players had signed a code of conduct which stated that they should avoid any public places, with bars and pubs specifically prohibited.
On the afternoon of October, 20, Robshaw, Wray and Wigglesworth left the team hotel via a fire exit to go for takeaway drinks from the Footman pub in Mayfair and drank them outside.
Later they moved into the pub where they were joined by Lewington, Socino, McFadden and Kerrod, contrary to Tier 2 regulations then in place in London. The seven players later returned to the hotel via the fire exit.
On October 21, 12 players left the team hotel and went to Hush bar in Mayfair, The Running Horse pub and Sergio’s restaurant.
When initially questioned, they said had they left the hotel to eat out at McDonald’s and sat in Berkeley Square drinking takeaways.
The virtual disciplinary proceedings were conducted by an independent panel chaired by Philip Evans QC.
In total, the 13 players have been banned for 85 weeks, with 44 weeks suspended subject to conditions being met. They have also been fined a total of 18.5 weeks’ salary and ordered to undertake a total of 630 hours of community service.
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