Tom Youngs (centre) confronts the officials after fractious Leicester-Bristol match
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Leicester Tigers captain Tom Youngs must undertake a refereeing course and officiate two junior grass-roots matches to escape further suspension after the conclusion of a Rugby Football Union investigation into his team’s dramatic loss to Bristol Bears earlier this month.
Despite an unsavoury touchline row between Steve Borthwick and Pat Lam in the final stages of a fractious game at Welford Road, and a melee featuring most of the players on the pitch at the final whistle, neither club will face a sanction.
However, Youngs was handed a two-week ban after confronting Ian Tempest and suggesting that the referee was “not f—— strong enough” to award a penalty try to Tigers following a series of scrum infringements from Bristol.
Youngs is deemed to have served one week of the suspension, after Leicester withdrew him from their squad to face Wasps on the last day of the regular Premiership season.
The RFU panel is also willing to suspend a week on the provision that “Youngs completes the England Rugby Refereeing Award Course and referees two community age-grade matches” before February 28, 2022.
The written judgment detailed the post-match exchange between Youngs and Tempest, which was captured by the latter’s microphone, as follows:
Youngs: “What you did mate, f—— not strong enough for f—— not giving the penalty try”
Tempest: “On which one?”
Youngs: “And you get a f——- fight like that”
Tempest: “On which one?”
Youngs: “Mate, all of them”
Tempest: “Ok, ok”
Youngs: “On f—— all of them. You know, Ian. Watch it back, Ian”
Youngs told the investigation panel, chaired by Ian Unsworth QC, that he was “embarrassed by his words” and had subsequently phoned Tempest to apologise. Tempest did not report the matter and placed on record that he “never once felt threatened or intimidated”.
Interestingly, social media was brought up as the panel considered Youngs’ punishment, with the written judgment outlining: “Social media is flooded with comments about referees. Often wildly differing views will be canvassed. Often foul language and abuse is used. Whilst such behaviour might be the privilege of armchair and often anonymous critics, this has no place on the field of play – either before the final whistle or afterwards.”
Youngs was said to be “very enthusiastic about learning more about the refereeing side of the game and also putting something back into the game that has given him so much”.