LONDON – Danny Cipriani is to face disciplinary proceedings, the Rugby Football Union said Friday, following his guilty plea to charges of common assault and resisting arrest at a nightclub although his club claim he is being “singled out”.
The mercurial 30-year-old utility back will appear before a hearing sometime next week, the RFU's head of discipline David Barnes said in a statement.
Cipriani's club Gloucester reacted angrily to the RFU's action with CEO Stephen Vaughan saying they were surprised such a proceeding had been launched when they are holding an investigation of their own and “there is no historic precedent of a player being singled out in this manner”.
Cipriani, whose career has been blighted by off the field misdemeanours, had resurrected his England career and made his first Test start in a decade in the third Test against South Africa in June.
But in court on Thursday he was fined £2,000 ($2500) and ordered to pay £250 compensation to a policewoman for an incident in a nightclub in Jersey where Gloucester were on a pre-season tour.
The RFU said Cipriani had been charged with “conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game”.
“We have high standards that we expect across the game, in line with rugby's core values, from all those involved within it,” RFU head of discipline David Barnes said. “I have this afternoon taken the decision to charge Danny Cipriani.”
There are no set punishments for players found guilty of breaching the regulation under which Cipriani has been charged - it is for the panel to decide.
Previous cases have led to fines and/or suspensions.
Cipriani was not charged by the RFU on a previous occasion when in 2016 he was found guilty of drink driving for which the court fined him over £7,000 and banned him from driving for 18 months.
Vaughan did not try and sugarcoat his words.
“We are surprised and extremely disappointed to have recently received notification of disciplinary action against Danny Cipriani by the RFU,” he said in a statement on the club website. “Yesterday afternoon (Thursday) I received a personal assurance from the RFU that no disciplinary discussions would take place until we had completed our own conversations as stated in our club release.
“With the team in Belfast for tomorrow's preseason friendly against Ulster, we had indicated that this would be carried out early next week following the team's return.
“There is no historic precedent of a player being singled out in this manner, and we feel that this disciplinary process has been influenced by the significant media coverage of this week's events and other external factors and not based on the actual facts of the matter.”
Cipriani admitted his behaviour was unacceptable in an interview published in The Times on Friday.
On Thursday he had issued a “heartfelt apology” saying he was “truly sorry... most importantly (to) the police” and was “mortified” by his actions.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)