Rugby Union: Rodber faces hearing: RFU holds inquiry into tour trouble

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The Independent Online
TIM RODBER, the England forward dismissed against Eastern Province in South Africa last month, will explain himself before a three-man Rugby Football Union panel meeting in London on Thursday to inquire into all aspects of that evil tour match.

Rodber, a 25-year-old army officer, escaped with a sending-off-sufficient 'punishment' from the disciplinary committee immediately afterwards and it is possible that the RFU panel will recommend he serve a suspension. Simon Tremain of EP, who was sent off at the same time, was similarly dealt with at the time but subsequently received a two-week ban.

Rodber had rained retaliatory blows on Tremain moments after Jonathan Callard had been led off for 25 stitches in facial wounds caused by Elandre van den Berg's boot, an incident for which the South African was penalised - but not dismissed - after a touch judge's intervention.

Van den Berg was cleared by an EP disciplinary committee while England were still on tour but has since been investigated by a South African RFU committee of inquiry headed by a judge. Sarfu's own disciplinary committee meets today and Van den Berg has been summoned to attend. Rodber, meanwhile, has expressed shame and contrition at being only the second player sent off in an England jersey.

Despite Rodber's presence, the special RFU committee, to be chaired by Robert Horner, of Kent, and made up of Peter Larter, the former England lock, and Peter Brook, a former international referee, has a general rather than specific brief. 'There are several matters which we were not happy about: clearly the refereeing; the composition of the disciplinary hearing, even though it was in line with the tour agreement; studs; the outcome of the sending-off,' Dudley Wood, the RFU secretary, said.

It is likely the RFU will urge the International Rugby Board to appoint neutral referees for provincial as well as Test matches, as will be the case when South Africa tour Wales and Scotland in the autumn, and to alter the make-up of tour disciplinary committees.