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Page last updated at 20:40 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 21:40 UK

Saracens boss Brendan Venter handed touchline ban

Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter
Venter's ban means he can have no contact with his team during the final

Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter has been handed a 14-week touchline ban by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel.

Venter was found guilty of making provocative and inappropriate gestures during Saracens' win against Leicester at Welford Road two weeks ago.

The ruling means the South African will miss the Guinness Premiership final, also against Leicester, on 29 May.

Saracens have appealed and the club expects the hearing before the final.

"In essence, Brendan stood up to follow play during the match at Leicester because he was given a seat with a restricted view, half a dozen Leicester supporters complained and this has now resulted in a substantial touchline ban, which may keep him away from the team on the day of the Premiership final," said Saracens cheif executive Edward Griffiths.

"We will immediately appeal against this decision, and the RFU have indicated the appeal will be heard before the final."

Venter received a 10-week ban for his gesture while RFU disciplinary chief Judge Jeff Blackett activated the four-week suspended penalty he was given for criticism of referees earlier in the season.

However, the panel found Venter not guilty of pushing a female spectator.

"We were disappointed he didn't understand the seriousness of what occurred and his behaviour was clearly unacceptable in provoking a reaction from the Leicester supporters," said Blackett.

"This type of behaviour is totally unacceptable in rugby and we reminded him of the core values of the sport, which include respect for the opposition in all its forms."

Griffiths added: "The charge was summarily dismissed, although we will still be asking the RFU to explain why they levelled and publicised the charge before giving either Brendan or the club the chance to offer our version of events. This process needs to be revised."

Because of the timing of the ban, the final at Twickenham is the only meaningful game Venter is likely to miss.

Sarries hooker Schalk Brits will be able to appear in the final after he was reprimanded and warned as to his future conduct by the same disciplinary panel.


The South Africa hooker pleaded guilty to making an abusive gesture to the crowd as he was substituted in the same game at Welford Road on 8 May.

The 28-year-old, who scored a late try to help Saracens beat Northampton on Sunday and reach their first Guinness Premiership final, was also ordered to pay £250 in costs.

"Schalk reacted to something from the crowd and his signal was momentary, without any aggression, and there was no evidence that he used any abusive language," Blackett added.

"He immediately apologised to the crowd after the game. We also received a letter from the chief executive of Leicester Tigers, Peter Wheeler, who praised his apology and contrite demeanour.

"While we were disappointed with the player's reaction and we reminded him about the core values of rugby, the offence was at the bottom of the scale of seriousness and was not serious enough to merit a suspension from playing."

Meanwhile, the RFU dismissed the case against Leicester flanker Craig Newby for an alleged dangerous charge on Saracens' Glenn Jackson in the match, deciding that no foul play had taken place.

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see also
Leicester 15-6 Bath
16 May 10 |  English
Northampton 19-21 Saracens
16 May 10 |  English
Leicester 23-32 Saracens
08 May 10 |  English
Guilty Venter has ban suspended
20 Jan 10 |  Saracens
Venter faces RFU ref blast probe
03 Jan 10 |  Saracens
Refs killing rugby, fumes Venter
02 Jan 10 |  Saracens
Saracens 15-22 Leicester
02 Jan 10 |  Rugby Union

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